International news sites crash in major internet outage

Access to news websites and social forums across the world has been restored, after a major outage hit dozens of popular websites on Tuesday night for over an hour.

Visitors to The Age, The Sydney Morning Herald, The Australian Financial Review, The Guardian and the BBC received error messages when trying to access the sites from about 8pm on Tuesday.

Reddit, Twitch and Pinterest also went down, in addition to CNN, The New York Times and the UK government’s home page.

Technology teams for Nine publications, including this masthead, confirmed that the issue was linked to content delivery network (CDN) vendor Fastly.

CDNs are distribution networks that allow for the very quick flow of digital information between internet servers.

The servers are located in data centres across the globe that are connected by underwater cables.

Fastly is one of four hosting service providers that looks after CDNs. Akamai, Cloudflare and Amazon Web Services are the other three.

At 10.57am UTC (8.57pm AEST) on June 8, Fastly confirmed the issue had been identified and fixed.

“Customers may experience increased origin load as global services return,” the update on the Fastly website read.

The update came an hour after the company announced it was investigating a “global CDN disruption”.

On its service status page, Fastly states its network “has built-in redundancies and automatic failover routing to ensure optimal performance and uptime.“

“But when a network issue does arise, we think our customers deserve clear, transparent communication, so they can maintain trust in our service and our team,” it said.

Fastly was reporting “degraded performance” across the globe. Not all of its customers appeared to be affected and several websites restored service relatively quickly. Shopify and Stripe’s websites were available on Tuesday.

Retail sites like Australian fashion brand Zimmermann were also down momentarily on Tuesday night AEST.

Fastly experienced an outage in May 2020 which appeared to be limited to Sydney and Perth and lasted for around half an hour.

With Supratim Adhikari, Bloomberg

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