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Massive Global Internet Outage Hits Top News, Tech Websites

A massive internet outage has affected websites including Amazon, Twitch, Hulu, Reddit, and many more.

The issue made the sites inaccessible to many users for more than an hour on Tuesday morning. Visitors to a huge number of sites received error messages including, “Error 503 service unavailable” and a terse “connection failure”.

The outage was traced to a failure in a content delivery network (CDN) run by Fastly, a cloud computing services provider. The outages started at around 5:30 AM ET, with many sites affected. Major news sites like CNN, The New York Times, The Guardian, and the Financial Times were also affected.

Within minutes of the outage starts, Fastly acknowledged that its content distribution network was the cause of the problem. The company runs an “edge cloud”, which is designed to speed up loading times for websites, protect them from denial-of-service attacks, and help them deal with bursts of traffic.

The issues also affected UK government websites, so British citizens were unable to renew passports, apply for tax allowances, or obtain driving licenses during the outage. As well as bringing down some websites entirely, the failure also broke specific sections of other services, such as the servers for Twitter that host the social network’s emojis.

The technology requires Fastly to sit between most of its clients and their users. That means that if the service suffers a catastrophic failure, it can prevent those companies from operating on the net at all. In an error message posted at 7.58 ET time, Fastly said: “We’re currently investigating potential impact to performance with our CDN services.”

It was not until 8.57 ET time, almost an hour later, that Fastly declared the incident over. “The issue has been identified and a fix has been applied. Customers may experience increased origin load as global services return,” the company said in a status update.

Despite speculation on social media that the outage was the result of a malicious attack, leading to the hashtag #cyberattack trending on Twitter, there is no evidence pointing to foul play. Instead, the company says a configuration error was at fault.

A Fastly spokesperson said: “We identified a service configuration that triggered disruptions across our POPs [points of presence] globally and have disabled that configuration. Our global network is coming back online.”

The failure was not geographically universal. Users in some locations, such as Berlin, reported no problems, while others experienced massive failures across the internet. Outages were reported in locations as varied as London, Texas, and New Zealand.

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