7 major website crashes that have wreaked havoc online in the past year

Whether it’s talking to your friends, doing homework, watching TV or keeping up with the news, we’re basically online 24/7 these days, and sometimes you can forget how much you count on the internet. .

But we can take a brutal shock when a website we depend on goes down, especially when you realize how many of your lifelines are connected to that server.

The problems are exacerbated by the fact that service providers increasingly own the internet, so if a business does have a problem, it can have a major ripple effect on the internet as a whole.

Over the past year, there have been a number of website outages that have put us in trouble. Here are seven of the worst …

October 2021: Facebook outage

In this photo, the logo of the American social media and social networking service Facebook (C), the logo of the American instant messaging software Whatsapp (L) and the logo of the American social network Instagram (C) are displayed on a screen of smartphone on October 5. 2021 in Glastonbury, England. Social media services including Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp were hit last night by a massive outage potentially affecting tens of millions of users.
Getty Images

Being off Facebook for a few hours, especially if you connect with your friends through Messenger, can be a bit of a pain. But since Facebook owns WhatsApp and Instagram, a failure of the social network can be catastrophic for communication.

That’s exactly what happened on October 4, when a “flawed configuration change” prevented Facebook’s 3.5 billion users from accessing its apps and products for nearly six hours.

Anyone using Facebook to log into third-party apps has also been blocked on those platforms. Twitter reportedly struggled to handle traffic as millions of people flocked to the app instead of other communication options.

It was even worse for Facebook because the staff were using the same network to access the network remotely. Facebook Workplace, the internal communications platform used by its staff, was also down, while access cards used by staff to enter offices are said to depend on how internal systems were functioning.

Facebook advertises where its servers are located on the Internet using the Border Gateway Protocol, but a “bad configuration change” means it has stopped telling routers where its data centers are located, and it has appeared to routers that they did not exist.

In a statement, he added: “We also have no evidence that user data has been compromised as a result of this downtime.”

June 2021: Quick cut

503 error message
In this photo illustration, a screen displays a portal waiting page of the Gov.UK government website on June 8, 2021 in London, England. A wide range of major websites, including eBay, Paypal, The Financial Times, Reddit, Twitch, and The Guardian, have been taken offline due to what is believed to be an issue with the cloud hosting service Fastly. Some of the affected websites displayed the message “Error 503 Service not available”.
Léon Neal / Getty Images

We sometimes joke that a celebrity’s actions can ‘break the internet’ … it turns out that whatever you Actually need is a failure in a content delivery network.

On June 8, some of the world’s largest news sites, including CNN, The New Yotrk Times and CNN were removed, along with Amazon, Target, Twitch, Spotify, Pinterest, Hulu, Reddit and the UK government website, when cloud service provider Fastly crashed.

Fastly, which improves website load times and operates a network of servers to avoid the effects of traffic overloads, suffered an outage due to a bad software update, claiming to have identified a service configuration that has triggered disruptions on its servers.

The blackout lasted about an hour.

November 2020: Amazon Web Services

Amazon web services logo
The Amazon Web Services (AWS) logo, a division of the U.S. e-commerce group of Amazon.com, is displayed during the 4th Annual Viva Technology Show at Parc des Expositions Porte de Versailles on May 17, 2019 in Paris, France.
Chesnot / Getty Images

On November 25, 2020, Amazon Web Services, one of the world’s most widely used cloud computing services, suffered an outage that wreaked havoc online.

News sites like The Washington Post, product vendors like Adobe and work tools like Trello were wiped out due to the outage, which lasted for several hours.

People have also struggled to use Amazon-owned products like Ring, Alexa, and iRobot.

AWS later explained that the outage was caused by its attempts to add new servers to its network.

A massive computer network in Northern Virginia began to fail after AWS began making “a relatively small capacity addition” to the system just before 6 a.m. EST, the new capacity and a “configuration operating system “triggering a series of errors. which caused an outage in the server network.

December 2020: Google Services

Google services
In this illustrative photo, the logos of the applications, Google Maps, Google and Gmail are displayed on the screen of a tablet on October 23, 2018 in Paris, France.
Chesnot / Getty Images

On December 14, 2020, many realized how dependent they were on Google’s services when the company suffered a global outage that lasted around 45 minutes.

While its search engine was performing well, the outage affected Gmail, Google Calendar and YouTube, meaning those who worked and those who relaxed were equally affected. It also blocked those who logged into third-party apps using Google logins.

What is perhaps even stranger is that some have sat in the dark and cold while their Google Home apps and Nest services have gone unresponsive.

The problem was caused by a failure in the company’s authentication tools, which manage how users sign in to services managed by both Google and third-party developers.

A Google spokesperson blamed “an internal storage quota problem”.

Essentially, Google’s internal tools failed to allocate enough storage space for the services that handle authentication. The system should have automatically made more storage available, but it didn’t, which meant the system crashed.

August 2020: CenturyLink / Level 3

Cloudflare building
Close-up of the logo on the facade of the headquarters of cybersecurity company Cloudflare in the South of Market (SoMA) neighborhood of San Francisco, California, June 10, 2019.
Smith / Gado / Getty Images Collection

Okay, so it wasn’t quite over the last year, but it would be remiss not to include it.

On August 30, 2020, a control plane failure of the leading global Internet service provider (ISP) CenturyLink / Level 3 left it out of service for five hours.

The ISP is supposed to keep other sites up and running, but since it is in contact with vendors and companies such as Cloudflare, Google, the PlayStation Network, Xbox Live, Discord, Hulu, and OpenTable, this resulted in a huge felt global outage. by millions of Internet users in the United States and Europe.

Cloudflare said its outage was caused by a “third-party transit provider incident,” and CenturyLink later explained that there was an IP outage involving a firewall and border gateway protocol (BGP) routing. routing for the Internet) that had an impact on content delivery networks (CDNs).

In an in-depth analysis sent to clients, CenturyLink said that an improperly configured flowspec was part of an unsuccessful effort to block unwanted traffic on behalf of a client.

The outage is said to have resulted in a 3.5% drop in global internet traffic, making it one of the largest internet outages on record.

January 2021: Slack outage

Loose interface
In this photo illustration, the Slack logo is displayed on the screen of an Apple iPhone in front of a computer screen displaying a Slack logo on February 6, 2019 in Paris, France.
Chesnot / Getty Images

Maybe in another year the failure of a business email system wouldn’t have been so bad. But in 2021, when millions of people are working from home, it’s a disaster.

On January 4, the Slack messaging service suffered a major outage in the US, UK, Japan, India and Germany, the first day back to work and school for millions of people ,

The outage began around 10 a.m. ET and service was still sporadic two and a half hours later. There was a temporary improvement until most issues were resolved around 3pm.

Slack has identified the source of the problem on network scaling issues by AWS Transit Gateway, which has not moved quickly enough to meet the increased demand for Slack’s services as millions of people were going back to work and school after the holidays.

A statement shared with customers read, “At around 6:00 a.m. PT, we started experiencing packet loss between servers caused by a routing issue between network boundaries on our cloud provider’s network. “

July 2021: Bug at Akamai

Playstation Network
An attendee walks past the PlayStation logo at the Sony Interactive Entertainment booth during the Tokyo Game Show 2018 on September 20, 2018 in Chiba, Japan. The PlayStation Network was among those affected by the Akamai outage.
Tomohiro Ohsumi / Getty Images

On July 22, sites like Amazon, UPS, Airnbnb, PlayStation Network, Steam, and FedEx went down, all due to an outage in Akamai Edge’s Domain Name System (DNS) service.

People trying to access these and other sites including American Express, Delta Airlines, and Home Depot received a DNS error message.

Akamai said the outage, which lasted for about an hour, was due to a bug triggered by a software update.

A statement read: “After canceling the software configuration update, the services resumed normal operations. Akamai can confirm that this was not a cyberattack against the Akamai platform.

The company said it will re-examine its update processes in light of the issue.


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