Finnish security expert: Web services' concentration in Silicon Valley is a weak point

Facebook-owned sites were down for an extended period on Monday.

Mikko Hyppönen, file photo from 2020. Image: Petteri Sopanen / Yle

The head of research at Finnish cyber security firm F-Secure, Mikko Hyppönen, said that the lengthy Facebook outage on Monday was exceptional.

Social media platforms Facebook, Facebook Messenger, Instagram and WhatsApp were down for around six hours on Monday evening, Finnish time.

The problem also affected companies that use Facebook as a sign-in service as well as the highly popular Instant Messaging service WhatsApp.

The social media giant said routers which control traffic between its data centres were updated, causing Facebook's services to collapse.

Spread out servers

"It's a bit like fixing your apartment door from the outside and posting your keys through the letterbox," said Hyppönen, who has worked in IT security for more than three decades.

He says it would be better — and more secure — if online services were offered by different companies across the world, and we were not so reliant on one or two US companies for sign-in and authentication purposes.

That over-reliance makes the whole internet vulnerable to disruption, he said.

"It's really significant if for example WhatsApp is down for six hours," said Hyppönen.

25-and-under

In the future, the online connection infrastructure will be as important as electricity, according to Hyppönen.

"The world has changed so much, and we are on the cusp of new things," said Hyppönen.

While the internet offers tremendous opportunities and enables cross-border interaction, it is also an avenue for criminal activity, among other things.

In terms of reducing risk on the internet, Hyppönen said he was most concerned about people over the age of 25 — people who have not been affected by the global network since birth.

He said people under the age of 25 understand the inherent risks of the internet better than older people do.

Hyppönen, a columnist for Wired and other publications, has worked for F-Secure for 30 years.