Countless websites and apps around the world went down Tuesday after Fastly, a major content delivery network, reported a widespread failure.
The issue made the sites inaccessible to many users for more than an hour on Tuesday.
The internet outage has been traced to a failure in a content delivery network (CDN) run by Fastly. It began around 1 p.m. Greek time, and saw visitors to a vast array of sites receive error messages including “Error 503 service unavailable” and a terse “connection failure.”
Publishers such as CNN, the New York Times, the Financial Times and the Guardian were affected, as well as Amazon and government sites.
In an error message posted at 12:58 p.m. Greek time, Fastly said: “We’re currently investigating potential impact to performance with our CDN services.”
An hour later Fastly announced that “The issue has been identified and a fix has been applied. Customers may experience increased origin load as global services return,” the company said on its service status website.
Fastly describes their network as an edge cloud platform, which is designed to help developers extend their core cloud infrastructure to the edge of the network, closer to users.
Centralization of internet cause of massive outage
The Fastly edge cloud platform includes their content delivery network, image optimization, video and streaming, cloud security, and load balancing services.
Fastly’s cloud security services include denial-of-service attack protection, bot mitigation, and a web application firewall. Fastly web application firewall uses the Open Web Application Security Project Mod Security Core Rule Set alongside its own ruleset.
The Guardian notes that the increasing centralization of internet infrastructure in the hands of just a handful of large companies means that single points of failure can result in sweeping outages.
A 2017 problem at Amazon’s AWS hosting business, for instance, took out some of the world’s biggest websites for several hours across the entire US east coast, while a 2020 problem with Cloudflare, another CDN company, led to a half-hour outage for most of the internet in major cities across Europe and the Americas.