Cloud Security

“Technical Issue” Takes Facebook Offline, Offers No Cybersecurity Reassurance

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Facebook, Messenger, Instagram and Threads users struggled with a massive outage initially detected at 10 a.m. ET on March 5 that affected hundreds of thousands of users worldwide.

The Meta-owned sites were down for about two hours. Officials blamed it on a "technical issue," but provided no details.

Despite a rooted mistrust of the ability of technology companies to keep customers safe from cybersecurity threats, Facebook issued no reassurance to the contrary.

There is some irony — but no evidence — to the outage in that it occurred as polls opened for election primaries in 16 states.

Cyberint, an Israel-based cyber protector, said that threat actors Skynet, Godzilla and Anonymous Sudan have together claimed responsibility on the dark web for attacking the social media sites, cybersecurity researcher Coral Tayar wrote in an alert.

However, Cyberint acknowledged that it had not independently confirmed that the threat groups were behind the event.

“Although the group claims they are the reason, it’s important to note that as of now we cannot tell if it is truly due to the Skynet group or if it is a bug. As of now there is no proof of the attack,” the cyber defender said.

When asked, a Cyberint official declined further comment.

500K Facebook Users, Others Impacted

According to Downdetector, a website outage checker, more than 500,000 users reported Facebook outages as did roughly 80,000 Instagram users and 12,000 Messenger users. Outages affecting What’sApp and Threads were reportedly much smaller, in the hundreds of users.

Website access to the apps appeared to be blocked in the United Kingdom, Argentina, Canada, Germany, Japan and elsewhere, the New York Times reported. The Toronto Star reported that hundreds of thousands of Canadian users of Facebook and Instagram had been affected.

During the height of the event, users were being booted out of Facebook and receiving "session expired" messages, while unable to log back in. Instagram was showing feed errors.

At 10:17 a.m. ET, Facebook’s Login Status page reported “major disruptions,” along with a message: “We are aware of an issue impacting Facebook Login. Our engineering teams are actively looking to resolve the issue as quickly as possible.”

According to Downdetector, by about 11 a.m. ET, reports of Facebook outages dropped to roughly 100,000 and Instagram reports dropped to about 25,000.

In an update at 12:07 p.m. ET, Facebook said that its login services “are in the process of being restored. We apologize for any inconvenience that this may have caused.” Shortly thereafter, a Meta spokesperson said the company had “resolved the issue as quickly as possible” after a “technical issue caused people to have difficulty accessing some of our services.”

As of 1 p.m. ET, some Facebook users across the U.S. reported on X (formerly Twitter) that they were still getting bounced from the login page.

In a post on its website, Cyberint said that Skynet, Godzilla, and Anonymous Sudan had previously collaborated in cyber strikes, lending some credence to the hackers' claim. Still, the company said it is “quite possible it could be a bluff.”

Last week, word surfaced that Anonymous Sudan is actively promoting a new Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) botnet dubbed “Skynet-GodzillaBotnet.” The service is being touted as a “powerful tool for executing DDoS attacks, with enhanced capabilities gained by merging its power with Skynet and Godzilla, according to a GBHackers report.

D. Howard Kass

D. Howard Kass is a contributing editor to MSSP Alert. He brings a career in journalism and market research to the role. He has served as CRN News Editor, Dataquest Channel Analyst, and West Coast Senior Contributing Editor at Channelnomics. As the CEO of The Viewpoint Group, he led groundbreaking market research.