Several major sites were not connected to the Internet: NPR


Several websites were unavailable early Tuesday after an apparently widespread outage at cloud services company Fastly. Dozens of high-traffic websites including the New York Times, CNN, Twitch and the UK government’s homepage are inaccessible.

Rick Field / AFP


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Rick Field / AFP


Several websites were unavailable early Tuesday after an apparently widespread outage at cloud services company Fastly. Dozens of high-traffic websites including the New York Times, CNN, Twitch and the UK government’s homepage are inaccessible.

Rick Field / AFP

LONDON – Several websites around the world were briefly disconnected on Tuesday after an outage at cloud services company Fastly, revealing how critical a handful of companies running internet plumbing are.

Dozens of sites including the New York Times, CNN, some Amazon, Twitch, Reddit, The Guardian and the UK government’s homepage could not be accessed.

In Asia, cities such as Hong Kong and Singapore, where users were unable to access CNN’s website, were also affected. In China, where most foreign media websites are blocked, there has been little discussion of outages on social media platforms such as Weibo.

San Francisco-based Fastly admitted there was a problem just before 6 a.m. EDT. In frequent updates to its website, it said it “continues to investigate the case.”

About an hour later, the company said, “The issue has been identified and the fix has been applied. Customers may face increased original burden as global services return.” It appears that a number of sites that were bombed early on are back online.

Fastly said it identified the service configuration that was causing the disruptions, which means the outage appears to be caused internally.

However, all major US futures markets fell sharply after minutes of the outage that occurred almost exactly a month after a cyber attack caused the operator of the largest US fuel pipeline to cease operations.

An internet traffic measurement by Kentik shows that Fastly started to recover from the outage about an hour after it hit mid-morning European time — and before most Americans woke up.

“It seems to be slowly coming back,” said Doug Madhuri, Internet infrastructure expert at Kentuck. “It’s serious because Fastly is one of the largest CDNs in the world and this has been a global outage,” he said.

Fastly is a content delivery network. It provides dynamic cloud computing but behind the scenes “edge servers” for many popular websites. These servers store or “cache” content such as photos and video in places around the world so they are closer to users, allowing them to fetch it faster and more smoothly rather than having to reach the site’s original server. Fastly says that its services mean that a European user going to a US website can get content 200 to 500 milliseconds faster.

The impact of the Fastly issue highlights the relative fragility of the current Internet architecture due to its heavy reliance on large technology companies—such as Amazon’s AWS Cloud Services—rather than a more decentralized model.

“Even the largest and most developed companies are experiencing interruptions,” Madhuri said. “But they can also recover fairly quickly.”

This was how the power was cut off

When the outage occurred, some visitors trying to access CNN.com received a message saying: “Quick Error: Unknown Domain: cnn.com.” Attempts to access the Financial Times website resulted in a similar message during visits to the New York Times and the British government’s gov.uk website, which returned an “Error 503 Service Unavailable” message, along with the line “Varnish cache server”, a technology On which Fastly is built.

Down Detector, which tracks internet outages, has published reports of dozens of sites down and said “there may be a widespread outage at Fastly”.