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Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Major Internet Outage Shuts Down News, Government Websites

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Dozens of websites in the U.S. and Europe were inaccessible early Tuesday, with at least one internet outage tracker reporting widespread disruptions.

Sites that were inaccessible included the U.K. government’s main public-services portal and several major U.S. and European news outlets, such as the

New York Times,

NYT 1.36%

CNN and Le Monde. Down Detector, an internet services tracker, reported a spike in outages just after 6 a.m. Eastern time.

Social media users described widespread outages in multiple regions.

Fastly, the operator of a content-delivery network service that many websites use to help speed the loading of their webpages for users, reported issues with its services on Tuesday morning, though it was unclear whether the broader website outages were related. “We’re currently investigating potential impact to performance with our CDN services,” the company said in an online-status page.

At 6:44 a.m. E.T., Fastly’s status page indicated the company had identified a problem with its service, saying a fix was being implemented.

Most of the websites that went down displayed a simple error message in plain text, saying, “Error 503 Service Unavailable,” and including other codes.

Shortly before 7 a.m. many of the websites affected began to come back online for at least some users.

Joshua Bixby, Fastly’s chief executive, said the company was investigating the issue, but that it wasn’t attack-related.

“We’re remediating as we speak,” he said. He declined to comment on whether the problems with Fastly’s service were directly related to the websites that were down, but said the company would provide an update.

A little before 7 a.m. E.T., Fastly’s status page updated to say a fix had been applied and told customers to expect global services to return.

Fastly operates what it calls an edge cloud network, which means it stores content from its clients’ websites on a large number of servers that are closer to where potential users are located. Such content-delivery networks trim the amount of time it takes information to reach end-users, speeding up things like website loading and the playing of streaming video.

The setup, though, can make swaths of the internet vulnerable to failures that affect a single delivery network. On its website, Fastly lists dozens of clients. Tuesday’s interruption caused Fastly’s observed traffic volume to drop by about 75%, according to network monitoring company Kentik Inc.

Past web outages have traced back to breaks in other parts of the digital supply chain. A crude 2016 cyberattack against Dyn, a service that acts as a virtual directory for internet addresses, took down hundreds of websites.

Write to Sam Schechner at sam.schechner@wsj.com and Parmy Olson at parmy.olson@wsj.com

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