Major internet outage sees and media organisation sites crash

Reddit was among the websites to go down Credit: PA

A major internet outage saw the UK Government’s website, Reddit, Amazon and several leading news organisations websites crash on Tuesday morning.

The BBC, Guardian, Financial Times, Independent, Evening Standard CNN and The New York Times, were among the media companies that saw their websites go offline for around an hour.

Anyone attempting to access the site – was given the “Error 503 Service Unavailable”.

US firm Fastly, a content delivery network (CDN) which helps websites speed up loading times and present their content to users confirmed it had an issue that had a “potential impact to performance with our CDN services”.

Screen grab dated 08/06/21 taken from the Downdetector website showing which sites were down on Tuesday morning. Credit: PA

They said the issue was fixed at 11.57AM but "customers may experience increased origin load as global services return."

The outage has also led to questions of whether the internet is too reliant on a small number of companies to stay online.

“It is remarkable that within 10 minutes, one outage can send the world into chaos,” said Professor Mark Rodbert, visiting professor in computer science at the University of York and founder of cybersecurity firm Idax Software.

In a tweet Fastly said: "We identified a service configuration that triggered disruptions across our POPs globally and have disabled that configuration. Our global network is coming back online."

On top of many websites going down, certain services on some sites were also affected, with emojis on Twitter no longer working.

According to Fastly's service status website they were investigating an issue relating to their CDN services which began at 10.58AM.

Fastly was reporting "degraded performance" in almost all areas of the world at around 11.30AM.

Fastly said the problem was identified as service configuration that triggered disruptions, meaning the outage appeared to be caused internally.

Many organisations attributed the problems with Fastly as the reason for their websites going down.

Alex Hern, the Guardian’s technology editor, tweeted that Fastly “has been identified as the cause of the problem”.

“The outage, which began shortly before 11am UK time, saw visitors to a vast array of sites receive error messages including ‘Error 503 Service Unavailable’ and a terse ‘connection failure’,” he tweeted.

The Quartz site has also attributed the issue to Fastly via Twitter.Fastly is a content-delivery network. 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 they are closer to users, allowing them to fetch it more quickly and smoothly instead of having to access the site’s original server. 

Fastly says its services mean that a European user going to an American website can get the content from 200 to 500 milliseconds faster.

Prof Rodbert said the issue "demonstrates the extent to which the move to the cloud has changed the things that companies need to protect.

“Whether the people inside a company or a supplier have made a mistake, or malicious perpetrators outside the perimeter have created the problem, it’s so important that we create firebreaks in the system so that if one company, or even just one well-connected employee, is compromised, the whole system isn’t brought to its knees.”