This past Tuesday, several Facebook applications were erroneously disabled, as were many developer accounts. Facebook explained what happened Thursday, saying that it was too aggressive with its identification of a pattern that identified malicious apps, and that legitimate apps and developers were mistakenly caught in the dragnet.
Facebook Software Engineer Eugene Zarakhovsky detailed the reasons for the error and steps the social network is taken to prevent its reoccurrence in a post on the developer blog:
The Facebook platform and our users are constantly under attack from malicious apps, and we have many automated systems to protect the platform and our users. Occasionally, we detect an attack that requires us to augment those automated systems. Specifically, we identify a malicious pattern, find all of the apps that match that pattern, and then disable those apps. This normally results in thousands of malicious apps being disabled and improves our automated systems’ ability to detect similar attacks in the future.
On Aug. 13, we undertook such a procedure. We started with a broad pattern that correctly matched many thousands of malicious apps but, unfortunately, also matched many of your high-quality apps. When we detected this error, we immediately stopped the process and began work to restore access. The process took longer than expected because of the number of apps affected and bugs related to the restoration of app metadata.
To help prevent this from happening again, we plan on making the following improvements to our processes and technology:
- We will create better tools to detect overly broad patterns and put in place better processes to verify that all apps matched are indeed malicious.
- We will address the bugs and bottlenecks that made the recovery process slower than expected.
We understand that incidents like these are disruptive to your businesses, and we sincerely apologize for the inconvenience. Our team is invested in learning from these incidents and making sure that Facebook platform stability continues to improve.
Readers: Were you unable to access any of your apps Tuesday?
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