Facebook could not be accessed in certain parts of Europe this past Wednesday. This prompted a security team to opine that the service inaccessibility was due to a DDOS (distributed denial of service) attack. In a tweet, the Belgium-based Computer Emergency Readiness Team (CERT.be) said that there was a DDOS attack on Facebook. It went to on to say that facebook users trying to access their accounts might face temporary failure. In a similar vein, a member of parliament in Iceland, Briggita Jonsdottir, tweeted that Facebook was unavailable in Russia, Turkey, most of Europe and Egypt. She was asking if the same is facing Facebook users in the Americas and Asia. Indeed, according to monitoring firm downrightnow, Facebook suffered intermittent down times in a few parts of the globe for a minimum of 12 hours.
Facebook, for its part, blames technical faults for the outages. In a released statement, Facebook said that the issue “has been resolved and everyone should now have access to Facebook.” The statement went on to apologize for any inconvenience brought about by the outage. Interestingly enough, Facebook was silent regarding the earlier CERT.be claim that the service interruption was due to a DDOS attack. It looks like the evidence for such an attack looks quite thin now. Indeed, CERT.be issued a follow up tweet on Wednesday that walked back its previous tweet. The security group said “Just to be clear: Cert.be can’t confirm #DDoS attack on #facebook. Our tweet this morning about #DDoS attack was based on earlier threats.”
The recent Facebook downtime might have been quite a hassle for people trying to log in. However, given the size of Facebook’s network and the number of its user base, it is quite reassuring to know that such occurrences are relatively rare and infrequent. It suffered its last major downtime back in September of 2010. During that time, Facebook’s lengthy service outage was due partly to the social network platform’s database routine for error-handling. There was a minor outage following that major incident. The minor outage was due to a Pages update.