Numerous websites were rendered unavailable on Tuesday morning after an apparent widespread outage at the cloud service company Fastly. Dozens of high-traffic websites including the New York Times, CNN, Twitch and the U.K. government's home page, could not be reached for almost an hour, with outages lingering for some sites. CBSNews.com was partially affected.
San Francisco-based Fastly acknowledged a problem just before 6 a.m. Eastern time. It said in repeated updates on its website that it was "continuing to investigate the issue."
Down Detector, which tracks internet outages, said: "Reports indicate there may be a widespread outage at Fastly, which may be impacting your service."
Fastly runs a so-called Content Delivery Network, or CDN, used by many media outlets and other websites to provide content to users. It was an outage in some part of the widespread CDN that crippled Fastly's client sites on Tuesday. CBSN, the live streaming service of CBS News, uses multiple CDNs, so only some viewers were impacted.
"This morning it looked like the entire internet was down," said CBS News technology reporter Dan Patterson. He said the fact that most affected sites were showing "Error 503" messages was an early indicator that a network error was behind the outages, rather than a hack.
"We wouldn't see this one Error 503 everywhere" if it was a hack, Patterson said, suggesting it was more likely a "misconfiguration of some sort."
Fastly told CBS News that the "issue has been identified and a fix is underway," and the affected sites were slowly coming back online. Patterson said service would likely be patchy for users in different regions as the issue was fully resolved.
Internet traffic measurement by Kentik show that Fastly began to recover from the outage roughly an hour after it struck.
"Looks like it is slowly coming back," said Doug Madory, an internet infrastructure expert at Kentik. He said "it is serious because Fastly is one of the world's biggest CDNs and this was a global outage."
As of 9 a.m. ET, only a handful users of several sites that appeared to have been affected by the outage, including Hulu, Reddit and Twitch, were reporting problems, according to Down Detector.
The impact of Fastly's trouble highlights the relative fragility of the internet's current architecture given its heavy reliance on Big Tech companies, such as Amazon's AWS cloud services, as opposed to a more decentralized model.
"Even the biggest and most sophisticated companies experience outages. But they can also recover fairly quickly," Madory said.