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EXPLAINER: DNS, the roadmap that cost Nigerians N2.17bn, Zuckerberg N2.62tn

There’s a popular adage in Nigeria saying, “Follow the person that knows road” but when the guide is missing, what happens? Many Nigerians were in this confused state on Monday as they couldn’t connect to Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp.

The chaos lasted for almost eight hours, and within this period, Ripples Nigeria understands N2.17 billion was lost by the country before Facebook engineers could restore their system.

Social media shutdown cost analysis on NetBlocks, revealed downtime of each networking site caused N725.69 million loss, but not as much as the N2.62 trillion Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook founder, lost following the crash, as previously reported by Ripples Nigeria.

The value of the loss could be linked to the 122.5 million Nigerians using the Harvard dropout’s social networking sites, according to figures compiled from Statista and Napoleoncat.

As of 2020, Statista reported 23.88 million Nigerians were on Facebook and 90 million using WhatsApp as of this year, while Napoleon estimated 8.67 million Instagram users in the country.

What you need to know: Where experts are pointing fingers

DNS is the ‘reason’ off the lips of every IT and Cybersecurity expert, but Facebook has been tight-lipped on what caused the nearly eight hours shutdown, but sporting its usual broken record t-shirt, with inscription, ‘technical issue.’

But what does DNS mean, and why is it so powerful, that it took Facebook and its other social media apps it shares infrastructure with, offline? – erasing their traces from the internet.

DNS, known fully as Domain Name System, is described by Cybersecurity ace, Ola Okara, as “a phone book for the internet. It matches domain names to corresponding Identifies (IP addresses).

“So when you type a web address, it looks for the IP address and connects to the physical location where the website is stored”, he explained to Ripples Nigeria.

In layman’s context, it is the highway that takes internet traffic (user request) to their preferred destination (say Facebook), so when DNS is missing, no one will be able to reach the social media platform, as the road connectivity is severed.

READ ALSO: Zuckerberg loses N2.62tr amid Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram crash

In one of his explanation, Okara, known on Twitter as @Oladev, stated that, “Every device needs a roadmap to get to its destination. Someone has burnt the road map to Facebook. Basically, the house dey but we no no the road to the house and the only person wey know road (routing table) don disappear or die.”

Another Cybersecurity enthusiast, Eghe Codes, seconded Okara, adding that, “So when you type google dot com, it takes you to Google IP address (basically the Google’s website.

“So essentially, webs and apps can’t access Facebook because Facebook has allegedly withdrawn their DNS routing table, whether it’s caused by a misconfiguration bug is what is yet to be confirmed.” Eghe Codes stated.

Note that while reasons for the shutdown has been hovering around DNS, Facebook hasn’t released a statement to fully explain the fault 13-hours after WhatsApp and Instagram came back online.

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