People often assume any kind of web disruption is linked to hacking, but actually more mundane reasons such as human error tend to be the more likely cause, experts say.
IT employees for companies, tech giants and even supermarkets make mistakes, which one cyber security expert blamed on them being ‘under pressure’ and having to take shortcuts.
Meta’s outage on October 4 was ultimately blamed on user error, when a faulty update disconnected its servers from the internet.
There have been increases in the sophistication of hacking, experts say, with numerous Distributed Denial-of-Service (DDoS) attacks seen recently, including on Microsoft, Google and other massive companies.
DDoS attacks work by flooding a victim’s system with ‘internet traffic’ in an attempt to overload it and force it offline.
Meanwhile, ransomware — a form of cyberattack which locks files and data on a user’s computer and demands payment in order for them to be released back to the owner — is also on the rise.
The head of Britain’s cybersecurity agency said it was ‘the most immediate danger’ of all cyber threats faced by the UK, and businesses need to do more to protect themselves.
Too much traffic
One cyber security expert told MailOnline that tech giants and other businesses had been hit by an unexpected surge in traffic because of the Covid pandemic, putting strain on their infrastructure.
He said these ‘sheer numbers of more online users and traffic’ was causing a lot of the outages.
Many companies, including Meta, have centralised back-end systems which means there is a single point of failure.
It Meta’s case, this means it can affect Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp and Messenger, as is what happened last month.
An internet scientist has agreed that centralised systems are a problem, while another expert said Meta’s outage showed the advantage of having a ‘more reliable’ decentralised system that doesn’t put ‘all the eggs in one basket’.
Ageing web infrastructure
Having been born in 1989, the World Wide Web is now an ‘ageing infrastructure’, according to several experts.
And with the increase in traffic and volume of users on the internet, systems are coming under more and more pressure.
‘Businesses must test their infrastructure and have multiple failsafes in place,’ one expert warned.