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Facebook Blames Faulty Configuration Change for Scary Outage

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facebook south africa

By Adedapo Adesanya

Facebook and its Instagram and WhatsApp platforms are back online after a massive global outage on Monday plunged the services and the businesses and people who rely on them into chaos for hours.

Facebook said late Monday that “the root cause of this outage was a faulty configuration change” and that there is “no evidence that user data was compromised as a result” of the outage.

The company apologized and said it was working to understand more about the cause, which began around 04:38 p.m. Nigerian time on Monday, October 4.

The outage didn’t exactly bolster Facebook’s argument that its size and clout provide important benefits for the world

London-based internet monitoring firm Netblocks noted that the company’s plans to integrate the technology behind its platforms — announced in 2019 — had raised concerns about the risks of such a move.

While such centralization “gives the company a unified view of users’ internet usage habits,” Netblocks said it also makes the services vulnerable to single points of failure.

In a statement, Facebook’s only public comment was a tweet in which it acknowledged that “some people are having trouble accessing (the) Facebook app” and said it was working on restoring access.

Regarding the internal failures, Instagram head Adam Mosseri tweeted that it feels like a “snow day” while WhatsApp assured users that work was ongoing to return the app to its working ways.

Mr Mike Schroepfer, Facebook’s outgoing chief technology officer, later tweeted “sincere apologies.”

In Monday night’s statement, Facebook blamed changes on routers that coordinate network traffic between data centres.

The company said the changes interrupted the communication, which had “a cascading effect on the way our data centres communicate, bringing our services to a halt.”

While much of Facebook’s workforce is still working remotely, there were reports that employees at work on the company’s Menlo Park, California had trouble entering buildings because the outage had rendered their security badges useless.

However, the impact was far worse for multitudes of Facebook’s nearly 3 billion users, showing just how much the world has come to rely on it and its properties — to run businesses, connect with online communities, log on to multiple other websites and even order food.

It also showed that despite the presence of Twitter, Telegram, Signal, TikTok, Snapchat and a bevvy of other platforms, nothing can easily replace the social network that over the past 17 years has effectively evolved into critical infrastructure.

Twitter, meanwhile, chimed in from the company’s main account on its service, posting “hello literally everyone” as jokes and memes about the Facebook outage flooded the platform.

Later, as an unverified screenshot circulating on Twitter suggested that the facebook.com address was for sale, Twitter CEO Mr Jack Dorsey tweeted, “how much?” to further add to the jokes, later tweeting a SoundCloud link to Kanye West’s 2021 song “Off the Grid”.

The outage had its downside as Facebook shares lost more than 5 per cent while its founder lost close to $7 billion in riches.

Adedapo Adesanya is a journalist, polymath, and connoisseur of everything art. When he is not writing, he has his nose buried in one of the many books or articles he has bookmarked or simply listening to good music with a bottle of beer or wine. He supports the greatest club in the world, Manchester United F.C.

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Dambatta Decries Impact of Vandalism on Telecom Industry

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Nigeria's Telecom Industry

By Adedapo Adesanya

The Executive Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC),  Mr  Garba Umar Dambatta, has lamented the impact of vandalism on the nation’s telecommunications industry.

Mr Dambatta said the scourge is having negative impacts on Nigeria’s economy and called on Nigerians to ensure adequate protection of telecommunications infrastructure spread across the 36 states of the federation.

He made the call during the Telecom Consumer Village Square Dialogue held at the School of Basic Midwifery, Dambatta, Kano State.

The industry regulatory agency boss, who was represented at the event by Mr Bako Wakili, underscored the need for the public to allow installation of equipment and maintenance/repairs on sites by Technical Staff of Service providers for quality Telecoms service delivery.

“There is the need for the public to guard against destruction of Telecoms infrastructure, through prompt notification of service providers on any ongoing road construction activities by companies or government agencies to avoid service disruption or interference in service,” he said.

Mr Dambatta added that “vandalization of telecom infrastructure discourages investors from investing in Nigeria should their infrastructures be continuously vandalized or stolen.”

“It will be good for the people to report cases of infrastructure vandalism to the nearest Law Enforcement Agents like the Police, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC).

“Share adequate information to your family, friends, neighbours and in accordance with the information and materials provided by the NCC. Let’s work with Law Enforcement Authorities on the protection of Telecom Infrastructure in your community,” he said.

According to him, “protection of Telecom Infrastructure is a collective responsibility. protecting the infrastructure means we are protecting every service offered on the network—-(your money, jobs, children’s future and your community.

“Let us work together to protect our telecoms infrastructure for better Quality of Service (QoS) and improved Quality of Experience.

“It is important that we all protect telecommunication infrastructure in our community because is a Critical National Asset that supports a lot of essential services, and ensures a better quality of service delivery and seamless customer experience.”

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MTN Partners Huawei to Deploy Premium Wi-Fi Service in Nigeria

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MTN Group Premium Wifi service

By Modupe Gbadeyanka

To improve the experience of end-users on its network, MTN Nigeria has partnered with Huawei to launch a premium Wi-Fi service in the country.

According to MTN Nigeria’s Chief Technical Officer, Mr Mohammed Rufai, the deployment of the premium Wi-Fi is geared around delivering a superior user experience with high technology.

He stated that this also became necessary due to an increase of smart home device quantiles and new types of services such as video clips and online games which demand a better home network quality.

MTN is working with Huawei on an Autonomous Driving Network project, including various innovative practices such as target architecture design, autonomous level evaluation and high-value use-cases of autonomous networks.

“Home network experience has become a vital area in improving network quality for us. In addition, we want to solve problems such as Wi-Fi interference, coordination between home network terminals and Wi-Fi coverage which occurs frequently and leads to a large proportion of user complaints,” Mr Rufai said.

 “With this, we can proactively identify and accurately locate fault points on home networks. It will help us to improve O&M efficiency and reduce customer complaints,” says Daniel Smith, a senior engineer with the MTN Group.

“In the future, MTN and Huawei will implement more innovations regarding network automation and intelligence, quickly deploy them on the live network to promptly deliver superior user experience of high tech,” he concluded.

The premium Wi-Fi can play back the historical home Wi-Fi performance in the last seven days. It demarcates faults based on speed tests by segment and diagnoses major issues in just one click to rectify problems in the cloud.

Besides, with the self-trouble shooting function on the mobile app, home broadband users are able to solve certain network problems by themselves, allowing them to manage the broadband performance much easier.

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Cyber Attacks: Africa Must Encourage Digital Skills Development—Experts

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Adopt Digital Skills

By Aduragbemi Omiyale

Urgent steps must be taken by African leaders to encourage general digital skills to tackle cyber-attacks and crimes on the continent, some experts in the industry have advised.

Speaking at the April edition of the Information Security Society of Africa – Nigeria (ISSAN) event, the stakeholders warned that if efforts are not taken, the governments, citizens and businesses may suffer “catastrophic consequences.”

It was stressed that at the moment, Africa is struggling to match its counterparts in the other parts of the globe due to a shortage of general digital skills caused by brain drain.

At the workshop themed Addressing the Cybersecurity Skills Quagmire, the founder/CEO of Digital Jewels, Mrs Doyin Odunfa, in her presentation, lamented that the shortage of general digital skills at all levels is expected to become more critical as economies grow, noting that the supply of digitally skilled labour must also increase to meet anticipated labour market needs.

She observed that highly skilled African professionals have been emigrating from African countries to pursue lucrative cultural and socio-economic opportunities on other continents leading to a brain drain and skills gap on the continent.

Whilst proffering solutions, she recommended intentional development of digital skills at all levels, smart technology support, collaboration with the Diaspora and strategic supply to Africa and Western economies.

“These young Africans are looking for higher-paying jobs outside Africa to escape socio-economic limitations such as poverty, limited infrastructure, and rudimentary jobs.

“They look for enabling environments in developed countries that provide rewarding businesses and obtain lucrative jobs, matching skilled individuals’ aspirations and expected socio-economic recompense.

“Many highly talented African students that obtain opportunities and scholarships of training abroad do not return home after completing studies,” Mrs Odunfa stated.

In his welcome address, the president of ISSAN, Mr David Isiavwe, said the brain drain in Africa as well as the digital skills shortage currently being experienced around the world calls for concern.

According to him, “The cyber threat landscape is still evolving. The cybersecurity space keeps getting very busy by the day. We have seen how daring cybercriminals can be, targeting both national assets and highly reputable firms. Even individuals are not left out.

“Consequently, it becomes imperative that organizations never relent in upholding and reinforcing information security best practices.”

The Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) of Stanbic IBTC, Abumere Igboa; CISO of Heritage Bank, Eduje Ighoakpo; CISO of First Bank, Harrison Nnaji; CISO of Standard Chartered Bank, Oghenefovie Oyawari and the Chief Technical Officer (CTO) of Digital Jewels, Tokunbo Taiwo, were the other speakers at the gathering.

ISSAN is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to the protection of Nigeria’s cyberspace. It is significantly involved in ensuring the security of banking systems and applications, ATMs, e-government systems, and the entire cyberspace in Nigeria.

The group also seeks to achieve its objectives through awareness heightening measures including the promotion of appropriate legislation and best practices.

Membership cuts across both public and private sectors of the economy including Banks, Telecommunications Operators, Government parastatals, switching companies, IT and IT security consultancies, Legal Practitioners with a keen interest in cyber-related matters, and regulators.

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