Multiple outages hit social media, government and news websites across the globe on Tuesday morning, with some reports pointing to a glitch at U.S.-based cloud computing services provider Fastly.
Fastly said it was investigating "the potential impact to performance with our CDN services," according to its website. Most of Fastly's coverage areas were facing "Degraded Performance", the website showed.
Faslty has confirmed it is facing an outage on its website. The company claims that the issue has been identified and a fix was implemented.
"A fix was applied at 10:36 UTC. Customers may continue to experience decreased cache hit ratio and increased origin load as global services return," Fastly claims on its status page.
Fastly, which went public in 2019, helps websites move content using less-congested routes, enabling them to reach consumers faster. Content delivery networks (CDNs) like Fastly act as proxy servers by taking data as close to end users as possible. Once a CDN is down, every time a user loads a webpage, the information needs to be taken from the original server.
"Incidents like this underline the fragility of the internet and its independence on a patchwork of fragmented technology. Ironically, this also underlines its inherent strength and how quickly it can recover. The fact that an outage like this can grab headlines around the world shows how rare it is," Ben Wood, chief analyst at CCS Insight told Reuters.
Typical service configurations for a cloud service provider can include updating security rules to protect information, or instructing a server to refresh the contents of a news site before serving it to a customer, said Andy Champagne, senior vice president at Akamai, a cloud service company.
A simple typo can be propagated to thousands of servers and cause disruptions, he said.
"In the grand scheme of things, we actually think that this is a little bit of a positive for other CDNs and also just shows how difficult managing a CDN can be," James Fish, analyst at Piper Sandler & Co, said.
Apart from Fastly, the other main CDN providers include Akamai Technologies, Cloudera and AWS. Fastly, which went public in 2019 and has a market capitalization of more than $5 billion, is far smaller than peers like Amazon's AWS.
"It certainly reminds us just how crucial so few sites and services are to our digital lives," Neil Campling, global TMT analyst at Mirabaud Securities, said.
Users received error messages quickly when they visited affected websites on Tuesday, which is an indication Fastly was not a victim of a DDoS attack, or a type of cyber-attack in which a bad actor overwhelms a network with a flood of internet traffic, Champagne said.
Amazon.com Inc's retail website also seemed to face an outage. Leading websites operated by news outlets including the Financial Times, the Guardian, the New York Times and Bloomberg News were down. Nearly 21,000 Reddit users reported issues with the social media platform, while more than 2,000 users reported problems with Amazon, according to Downdetector.com.
High traffic sites including Reddit, Amazon, CNN, Paypal, Spotify, Al Jazeera Media Network and the New York Times were out of commission, according to outage tracking website Downdetector.com. They came back up after outages that ranged from a few minutes to around an hour.