How Did Fastly Take Down the Internet?

How Did Fastly Take Down the Internet?

fastly logo on iPhone

On Tuesday morning, many high-traffic sites went down across the globe – from the New York Times, to Reddit, the UK Government website, Twitch, and Spotify.

The only thing these websites had in common is Fastly, a content-delivery network (CDN) provider, which experienced a widespread outage, which had a knock-on effect on the websites that use Fastly. Along with Cloudflare and Akamai, it’s one of the biggest CDN providers in the world.

Down Detector, which tracks internet outages, said: “Reports indicate there may be a widespread outage at Fastly, which may be impacting your service.” 

Although the downtime was only around an hour, the interruption caused Fastly’s observed traffic volume to drop by approximately 75%, according to network monitoring company Kentik Inc.

The outage led to speculation that Fastly may have been a victim of a cyber-attack. But Fastly’s CEO, Joshua Bixby,  stated that the outage wasn’t attack-related. In a tweet, the company explained that the outage was caused by a configuration problem that affected its infrastructure globally. 

Fastly operates an edge cloud network, which means it stores content from its clients’ websites on a large number of servers that are closer to where potential users are located. Such content-delivery networks lessen the amount of time it takes information to reach end-users, speeding up website loading and the playing of streaming video. 

The setup, though, can make large portions of the internet vulnerable to failures that affect a single delivery network.

“The incident highlights the reliance of many of the world’s biggest websites on content delivery networks such as Fastly,” said Toby Stephenson, Chief Technology Officer of IT services company Neuways Ltd.

Copyright Lyonsdown Limited 2021

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