A plethora of Web sites operated by financial institutions, governments and airlines including Hong Kong Exchanges & Clearing Ltd and Australia’s central bank went down briefly yesterday in the second global Internet outage in as many weeks.
Some of the outages, including those that affected Commonwealth Bank of Australia, Westpac Banking Corp and Australia & New Zealand Banking Group Ltd, were linked to a failure at Akamai Technologies Ltd, which helps clients manage Web services, people familiar with the matter said, asking not to be identified discussing internal affairs.
The Reserve Bank of Australia was forced to cancel a scheduled bond-buying operation yesterday, blaming “technical difficulties.”
A representative for Akamai in Asia did not respond to e-mails and calls seeking comment.
The widespread downtime recalled an hour-long global outage earlier this month, triggered by a software failure at content delivery platform Fastly Inc. The resultant cascading failures, which affected services from Amazon.com Inc to Shopify Inc and Stripe Inc, served as a stark reminder of how exposed the world’s biggest Web sites are to disruptions ranging from simple human error to a coordinated cyberattack.
Web site tracker Downdetector.com initially flagged hundreds of user complaints about outages affecting Southwest Airlines Co, Delta Air Lines Inc and Automatic Data Processing Inc. Other Web sites pinpointed included those operated by Vanguard, E-Trade and Navy Federal Credit Union.
Many of the affected Web sites recovered within the hour, some after rerouting to other providers. Companies including Hong Kong’s exchange and Southwest said they were investigating the incident, without elaborating.
“The pause in connectivity did not impact our operation,” Southwest said in an e-mailed response to questions.
It was unclear what triggered the incidents yesterday. In Fastly’s case, a valid software configuration change by one of its customers triggered a previously undiscovered bug, introduced during a May 12 software deployment. Fastly quickly identified an issue with its content delivery network and announced it was rolling out a fix just 46 minutes after acknowledging a problem. Sites began to spring back to life soon afterward.
Akamai is one of a number of high-level Web site and application hosting services that large enterprises use to serve content to millions of users simultaneously.
Rather than hosting all Web site content on a single set of servers in one location, Fastly’s so-called “edge computing” model puts servers in dozens of locations, allowing Web sites to serve pages to users from physical locations closest to them. This cuts lag time, speeding up page-loading and spreading the burden on individual servers.
These vast and complex setups are run by just a few companies, such as Fastly and Cloudflare Inc.
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