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What led to a global outage that took down over 29,000 websites on July 22?

On July 22, there was a global internet outage that took down about 29,000 websites. The list of websites that underwent the disruption includes popular names like Zomato, Paytm, Amazon, etc. The reason behind the extensive and unexpected blackout can be traced back to a slight technical glitch in Akamai. About 15-30% of global web traffic is handled by the company. This explains the wide stretch at which the outage was experienced.

Akamai Technologies

The What, How, and Why

Akamai Technologies is a cloud service provider with a good number of popular websites dependant on them. It constitutes about 15-30% of the overall web traffic handled by the company. The said outage on Thursday led to the abrupt shutdown of some of the world’s biggest brands. Amazon, Airtel, Instagram, Twitter, Microsoft to name a few. The number of these massively popular names included in the list is the one reason why the sudden outage was felt across the globe. The shutdown was due to a slight disruption in services which flicked the switch on this multitude of websites. Indian companies like Zomato, Swiggy, BSNL, Paytm, etc also suffered due to the internet outage. The disruption of Akamai services was triggered by a software update. This led to a bug in the DNS system which facilitates the direction of browsers to websites. Although the sudden outage instilled a fear of a potential cyberattack owing to the widespread impact, the company assured against the same. It is possible that the apprehensions about a possible cyberattack might have been magnified because of the existing Pegasus situation that has come as a rather massive shock for the world.

Content Delivery Networks

A good number of websites make use of content delivery networks like Akamai to ensure the smooth delivery of content to the users. Thus, these websites are placed in a position where they are dependant on the services of the content delivery network to some extent. Which explains why a slight disruption of the content delivery network led to an immediate blackout of all these websites.

After acknowledging the issue at hand, Akamai assured that the disruption lasted only for an hour after which the bug was fixed and the websites were back to working condition. The acknowledgment by the company also put to rest unnecessary worries and apprehension concerning a probable cyber attack.

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