Wondering why you can't get onto Facebook, or Instagram, or another Web service? There's a very good reason — a massive online attack is currently underway against servers in the United States.
Update, 8:30AM 28/1: Everything's back to normal, obviously. That half an hour last night was rough, though... Read below for the original story.
A spokesperson from Facebook and Instagram says that the outage was not due to any attack from a third party, but rather an error in the social media sites' configuration.
Earlier this evening many people had trouble accessing Facebook and Instagram. This was not the result of a third party attack but instead occurred after we introduced a change that affected our configuration systems. We moved quickly to fix the problem, and both services are back to 100 per cent for everyone.
iPViking currently shows huge amounts of online denial of service attack traffic towards IP addresses in the US. I'm no computer security expert, but I do like to look at IPViking occasionally and I haven't seen the site show numbers this high ever before.
Attack traffic seems to be coming mainly from within the US, as well as China and Brazil — likely from compromised home and business PCs infected with some kind of virus and slaved into a botnet.
These PCs will be sending junk requests through HTTP and other Internet protocols towards the servers of Facebook, Instagram et al, driving them offline with the sheer volume of data.
At the moment noone has taken responsibility for the attacks, but we'll wait and see what happens. More to come.
Update: Attack traffic volume continues to grow.
Update: Looks like both Instagram and Facebook are back up, half an hour or so since the attack started. Back to your regularly scheduled cat photos, folks.