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Internet outage: Websites and apps around the world went down

  • Posted at 2021-07-26 05:14:23
  • By Prefixx Team

Internet outage: Websites and apps around the world went down

On 8th June 2021, Tuesday the internet literally broke down. This wasn’t because of a celebrity or something that caused an influx of traffic but on the other hand a technical bug that was dormant.

Many major sites like Reddit, Amazon, Spotify, Pinterest, Twitch, eBay, and many more were affected due to an outage. You could see the 503 error everywhere and people were miffed that they could not access some key services and their favorite news outlets. The problem was fixed swiftly, and we now have the exact reason why the outage happened at Fastly in the first place.

Last month in mid-May, Fastly had issued a software notice that had a minor bug. It also mentioned that under specific circumstances that bug could take down a large percentage of their network. The bug wasn’t found till the 8th of June when one of their customers triggered the bug while doing a “valid configuration change”. This caused 85% of the networks to return errors on their users' ends. 

Fastly’s Nick Rockwell who is the senior vice president, said that they detected the network’s disruption in under a minute. They prioritized and isolated the cause and disabled the configuration as soon as possible. In the next 49 minutes, Fastly’s 95% of the networks were up and running again. They have also issued an apology for the outage as it was very severe.

What happened during the outage?

At 2:58 am PT, their status update page observed an error that said “We’re currently investigating potential impact to performance with our CDN services”. After the message, many web-based platforms and websites like Twitter, CNN, New York Times, and BBC became offline and inaccessible. 

At first, people thought these were isolated incidents but later got to know that it was because of a massive outage. All over the world people received the 503 error message. Many of the government websites in the UK were also affected. 

After an hour Fastly updated the status to tell the people that the issue has been identified and is being fixed at the earliest. A little later the company tweeted “We identified a service configuration that triggered disruptions across our POPs globally and has disabled that configuration. Our global network is coming back online."

Company Background

A cloud computing service provider Fastly is located in San Francisco and began operations in 2011. A few years ago, in 2017, they launched another cloud design that makes the websites more accessible to its users. For example, if you are visiting a website that is hosted in another country the cloud computing platform will save some of that website so that you save bandwidth. 

This is great for website optimization and decreases the loading times. It also optimized videos, images, and any other content with a higher payload. This ingenious solution makes going to a web page a smooth process and quicker at the same time.

One such example would be that they could load Buzzfeed’s pages 50% faster now. They also optimized the New York Times so that it could accommodate the "2 million" traffic that was reading the news on election night. They also have a history of providing cybersecurity services that protect you from bots and DDoS attacks. 

Because of the way how Fastly works and how they handle both the backend and frontend practices for their clients. Any slip-up on their part could lead to problems for a wide number of websites and platforms. But due to the localization of data, it means that not all regions are affected at the same time. 

503 Error explained

A 503 error means that there is an error from the server that is hosting the website and cannot handle that request currently. It also means that the problem is temporary and will be taken care of soon.

In most cases, it is caused because of regular server maintenance or when the website overloads due to the huge influx of traffic. 

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