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The Internet Impact When Content Distribution Networks Break, Causing Their DNS System to Fail (Video)

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On 22 July 2021, the content distribution network Akamai attempted to integrate a software configuration which caused a fault in their DNS (domain name service) system. Akamai did a roll back to the previous software version which resolved the issue.

It has been a few days now since the widespread Internet outage caused over 20,000 DNS to fail, shutting down many websites including Amazon, Delta, Capital One, Southwest Airlines, FedEx, McDonald’s, and Costco to name a few. The DNS failure made it impossible to search for and connect to a website by name.

Just one month ago, a different content delivery network also experienced a software bug. The issue caused by Fastly shut down websites like CNN, The New York Times, Twitch and Reddit. In the case of Fastly, seems an unnamed customer made a service configuration change which triggered a deeply buried bug hidden in a 6 May 2021 software update. The result was 85% of the Fastly network returned errors when a search was done or an attempt was made to connect to a website by name.

While these have been temporary outages, with DNS restored quickly through a rollback of newly installed software and/or changes, the number of websites who rely on just a few content delivery networks shines a light on how fragile the entire Internet system is actually.

The recent uptick in DNS fails is hopefully not a pattern which will increase, but if the software upgrades being loaded are not thoroughly tested outside the production environment, then companies and their clients can expect this rocky road to just continue. Implementation without complete testing rarely ends well.

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