Thousands of government, news and social media websites across the globe were coming back online Tuesday after getting hit by a widespread hour-long outage linked to U.S.-based cloud company Fastly Inc (FSLY.N).
High traffic sites including Reddit, Amazon, CNN, Paypal, Spotify, Al Jazeera Media Network and the New York Times went down, according to outage tracking website Downdetector.com. They came back up after outages that ranged from a few minutes to around an hour.
“Our global network is coming back online,” Fastly said.
One of the world’s most widely-used cloud-based content delivery network providers, the company earlier reported a disruption from a “service configuration” and did not explain.
“Incidents like this underline the fragility of the internet and its dependence on a patchwork of fragmented technology. Ironically, this also underlines its inherent strength and how quickly it can recover,” Ben Wood, chief analyst at CCS Insight said.
“The fact that an outage like this can grab headlines around the world shows how rare it is.”
Fastly, which went public in 2019 and has a market capitalization of under $6 billion, is far smaller than peers like Amazon’s AWS. The company’s content delivery network (CDN) helps websites move content using less-congested routes, enabling them to reach consumers faster.
“In the grand scheme of things, we actually think that this is a little bit of a positive for other CDNs and also just shows how difficult managing a CDN can be,” James Fish, analyst at Piper Sandler & Co, said.
Apart from Fastly, the other main CDN providers include Akamai Technologies, Cloudera and AWS.
“It certainly reminds us just how crucial so few sites and services are to our digital lives,” Neil Campling, global TMT analyst at Mirabaud Securities, said.
The United Kingdom’s attorney general earlier tweeted that the country’s main gov.uk website was down, providing an email for queries.
The disruption may have caused issues for citizens booking COVID-19 vaccinations or reporting test results, the Financial Times reported.
Websites operated by news outlets including the Financial Times, the Guardian and Bloomberg News also faced outages.
News publishers came up with inventive workarounds to report about the outage when their websites failed to load up.
Popular tech website the Verge used Google Docs to report news, while UK Technology Editor at the Guardian started a Twitter thread to report on the problems.
At the onset of the outage, nearly 21,000 Reddit users reported issues with the social media platform, while more than 2,000 users reported problems with Amazon, according to Downdetector.com.
Twitter users quickly reacted to the outage, creating the #InternetShutdown hashtag with KITKAT’s official handle telling its 441,500 followers “Guess it’s time to Have A Break.”
“We were offline for a few minutes because the whole internet broke down,” tweeted Jitse Groen, chief executive of food delivery group Just Eat Takeaway.com.
Shares of New York-listed Fastly were up 4.7% at $52.80, after being down nearly 4% in pre-market trading.
LONDON (AP) — Dozens of websites briefly went offline around the globe Tuesday, including CNN, The New York Times and Britain’s government home page, after an outage at the cloud computing service Fastly, illustrating how vital a small number of behind-the-scenes companies have become to running the internet.
The sites that could not be reached also included some Amazon pages, the Financial Times, Reddit, Twitch and The Guardian.
San Francisco-based Fastly acknowledged a problem just before 6 a.m. Eastern. About an hour later, the company said: “The issue has been identified and a fix has been applied.”
Most of the sites soon appeared to be back online.
Fastly said it had identified a service configuration that triggered disruptions, meaning the outage appeared to be caused internally. Brief internet service outages are not uncommon and are only rarely the result of hacking or other mischief.
Still, major futures markets in the U.S. dipped sharply minutes after the outage, which came a month after a cyberattack forced the shutdown of the biggest fuel pipeline in the U.S.
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 video in places around the world so that it is closer to users, allowing them to fetch it more quickly and smoothly.
Fastly says its services mean that a European user going to an American website can get the content 200 to 500 milliseconds faster.
Internet traffic measurement by Kentik showed that Fastly began to recover from the outage roughly an hour after it struck at mid-morning European time, before most Americans were awake.
“Looks like it is slowly coming back,” said Doug Madory, an internet infrastructure expert at Kentik. He said “it is serious because Fastly is one of the world’s biggest CDNs and this was a global outage.”
Fastly stock jumped more than 6% by midday as investors shrugged off the problem.
The impact of Fastly’s trouble highlights the relative fragility of the internet’s architecture given its heavy reliance on Big Tech companies — such as Amazon’s AWS cloud services — as opposed to a more decentralized array of companies.
“Even the biggest and most sophisticated companies experience outages. But they can also recover fairly quickly,” Madory said.
When the outage hit, some visitors trying to access CNN.com got a message that said: “Fastly error: unknown domain: cnn.com.” Attempts to access the Financial Times website turned up a similar message, while visits to The New York Times and U.K. government’s gov.uk site returned an “Error 503 Service Unavailable” message, along with the line “Varnish cache server,” which is a technology that Fastly is built on.
Down Detector, which tracks internet outages, posted reports on dozens of sites going down.
Frank Bajak in Boston and Zen Soo in Hong Kong contributed to this report.
Source: Associated Press