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Major websites including gov.uk recover after widespread outage
8 June 2021, 14:44
US firm Fastly, a content delivery network, said it had suffered an issue which affected sites such as Amazon and Reddit.
A number of major websites are back online following a widespread outage that left many unable to access critical services such as the Government’s website.
Gov.uk was among a raft of sites affected just before 11am on Tuesday, as well as national news publishers including The Guardian and Independent, and social platforms such as Reddit.
The incident has been linked to the US firm Fastly, which helps speed up loading times by storing versions of a company’s website in local servers, meaning less data has to be transferred from long distances.
Gov.uk is not only the Government’s hub for official information but also the location for passport applications, tax self-assessment paperwork and vehicle taxing, causing disruption at a time when the country is more dependent on online services due to the pandemic.
While some websites were knocked completely offline, others suffered image loading problems – which extended to Twitter’s emojis – and news publishers were forced to use other platforms to report on the situation.
The outage has also led to questions of whether the internet is too reliant on a small number of companies to stay online.
“It is remarkable that within 10 minutes, one outage can send the world into chaos,” said Professor Mark Rodbert, visiting professor in computer science at the University of York and founder of cybersecurity firm Idax Software.
“This demonstrates the extent to which the move to the cloud has changed the things that companies need to protect.
“Whether the people inside a company or a supplier have made a mistake, or malicious perpetrators outside the perimeter have created the problem, it’s so important that we create firebreaks in the system so that if one company, or even just one well-connected employee, is compromised, the whole system isn’t brought to its knees.”
Fastly said it had applied a fix just after 11.30am UK time, though many sites continued to experience slow loading issues.
The exact cause is yet to be revealed.
The firm wrote on its status page: “Fastly has observed recovery of all services and has resolved this incident.”
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “Obviously this happened recently, it appears to be a wider issue, a global issue, and as you would expect Cabinet Office are investigating it as a matter of urgency.”