War in Ukraine: Internet disruptions and Facebook’s security measures

A little more than 24 hours after the start of the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, the first testimonies on the interruption of Internet connectivity, a circumstance that is worrying, especially if one were to pass from sporadic inefficiencies to a wider blackout that would cut the bridges between the country under attack and the rest of the world. Fears that add up to the already ascertained observation of an attack by Russia which is also carried out through the use of cyber weapons. Meanwhile Facebook has decided to take some measures to protect Ukrainian citizens during the Russian invasion.


The Russian invasion has already damaged internet connectivity in some areas. The outages are concentrated near Kharkiv, the second largest city in Ukraine, located in the north east of the country about 40 kilometers from the Russian border. To report the news are the managers of the IODA project (Internet Outage Detection and Analysis) who report partial interruptions of connectivity from just before midnight on February 23 until yesterday morning.

The inefficiencies affected in particular i services provided by the Triolan ISP which also serves other areas of the country. According to NetBlocks (an organization that monitors disruptions and interruptions in Internet connectivity worldwide) the problems mainly concerned the fixed network, while the cellular network continued to function. Yesterday morning Triolan announced that connectivity had largely been restored.

Problems have also been reported in the management of the ISP’s DNS that has invited to use alternatives such as those of Cloudflare and Google. The origin of the problem is unclear: the Kharkiv area was one of the first to be attacked by the Russian army, and explosions have been reported that may have damaged the telecommunications infrastructure. AND It is premature to speak of targeted attacks against all ISPs in the country, but this scenario is also feared.

According to when reported by a spokesperson for the country (data updated as of yesterday): The internet continues to work in most of Ukraine. We have noticed an increase in internet usage after 4.30 (referring to the night of February 24, ed.) As it perhaps indicates that Ukrainians were using the internet to search for news and information. We are currently taking about 80% of the cargo we usually see in Ukraine. Traffic from Kharkiv appears to be 50% below normal levelsthere”


With the start of the Russian offensive, Facebook decided to take some measures to protect Ukrainian citizens: the “Profile Block” option was activated and a “special operations center” was activated to closely monitor the evolution of the situation.

The “Profile Lock” allows you to activate a series of measures that protect the user’s privacy by clicking: When a user’s profile is blocked, those outside the circle of friends cannot download or share their profile photo, or see posts published in the timeline. The profile lock was designed to protect journalists, activists and more generally those who may be targeted in high-risk areas, such as Ukraine is now. It is not the first time that Facebook has activated the “Profile Block”: it also occurred during the American demilitarization of Afghanistan to protect the population from retaliation by the Taliban.

The operations center instead it is made up of expertsi (including mother tongue staff) and serves to closely monitor the situation and act as quickly as possible. Facebook, also based on the assessments of the operations center, could decide to activate other tools designed for emergency areas (ex. the Safety Check function).