Internet down: What caused some of the world’s biggest websites to break today?

Some of the world’s biggest websites have been affected

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Many of the internet’s largest websites, including Reddit, Twitch, Amazon, and PayPal, have all experienced outages today.

As well as the aforementioned websites, Spotify, Pinterest and Twitter are also affected. Numerous publications such as CNN, the New York Times, The Guardian, the BBC, and the Financial Times have gone down, as has The Independent.

It is unclear precisely the cause of the issue, but users are seeing an “Error 503 Service Unavailable” message when attempting to access various websites. It can be traced back to content delivery network provider Fastly, which is suffering from a similar outage.

Fastly, which runs an “edge cloud” to protect websites from denial-of-service attacks and speeds up loading times, said it was “investigating potential impact” on its status website at 9:58am UTC – which has taken with it many major sites.

It updated the page at 10:44am UTC, saying that the issue “has been identified and a fix is being implemented”.

The company did not respond to a request for comment from The Independent.

Large-scale internet outages like this have been seen before. In 2019, a Cloudflare issue meant that many of the world’s largest websites went dark – something that was seen again in August 2020, which affected eBay, Roblox, Visa, and more. In November that year Amazon, which runs the Amazon Web Services platform, also went down, resulting in similar problems.

“Whether it be malicious or otherwise, this highlights the importance and significance of these vast hosting companies and what they represent”, Jake Moore, Cybersecurity Specialist at ESET, told The Independent.

“It would be difficult to point the finger at an attack at this early development stage, but it cannot be ruled out due to the impact a potential attack could have. These middle suppliers are an easy target should they ever be hit with the perfect attack. Multiple areas will be significantly impacted as a result of this, along with an inevitable financial hit.”

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