Global failure: swaths of internet fall after cloud outage

LONDON (AP) – Dozens of websites were briefly offline Tuesday across the world, including CNN, The New York Times and Britain’s government homepage, following an outage in Fastly cloud service, lo illustrating how vital a small amount of information behind the scenes is. Businesses have become the operation of the Internet.

The sites that could not be accessed also included some pages from Amazon, Financial Times, Reddit, Twitch, and The Guardian.

San Francisco-based Fastly recognized a problem shortly before 6 a.m. ET. About an hour later, the company said: “The problem was identified and a solution was applied.”

Most of the sites soon seemed to be back online.

He quickly said that he had identified a service configuration that caused outages, which means that the outage appeared to be caused internally. Brief internet service outages are not uncommon and are rarely the result of hacking or other shenanigans.

Still, major US futures markets plummeted minutes after the outage, which came a month after a cyberattack forced the shutdown of the largest US oil pipeline.

Fastly is a content delivery network or CDN. It provides vital but behind-the-scenes cloud computing “edge servers” to many of the web’s popular sites. These servers store, or “cache”, content such as images and videos in places around the world so that they are closer to users, allowing them to obtain them more quickly and without problems.

Fastly says its services mean that a European user visiting an American website can get content 200 to 500 milliseconds faster.

Kentik’s measurement of internet traffic showed that Fastly began to recover from the outage about an hour after it occurred mid-morning European time, before most Americans woke up.

“It seems like it’s slowly coming back,” said Doug Madory, an internet infrastructure expert at Kentik. He said “it’s serious because Fastly is one of the largest CDNs in the world and this was a global outage.”

The impact of the Fastly problem highlights the relative fragility of the Internet architecture given its heavy reliance on large technology companies, such as Amazon’s AWS cloud services, as opposed to a more decentralized range of companies.

“Even the largest and most sophisticated companies experience disruptions. But they can also bounce back pretty quickly, ”Madory said.

When the outage occurred, some visitors trying to access received a message that read: “Quickly Error: Unknown Domain:” Attempts to access the Financial Times website yielded a similar message, while visits to the UK government’s website and The New York Times yielded an “Error 503 Service Not Available” message, along with the line “Varnish Cache Server” technology that Fastly is based on.

Down Detector, which tracks internet outages, posted reports of dozens of sites going down.


Frank Bajak in Boston and Zen Soo in Hong Kong contributed to this report.

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