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Airline and bank websites go down in another major Internet outage

File picture: Pixabay

File picture: Pixabay

Published Jun 18, 2021


By Timothy Bella

Multiple airlines, banking institutions and trading platforms went down early Thursday in the second major global Internet outage over the past two weeks.

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Southwest Airlines, United Airlines and the Commonwealth Bank of Australia were among those who reported outages. The Hong Kong Stock Exchange posted how the site was facing technical issues. It said it was back online about 20 minutes later.

Virgin Australia said in a statement that its IT outage stemmed from a failure at the global content delivery network Akamai Technologies. The airline said it was "one of many organizations to experience an outage with the Akamai content delivery system today."

Akamai, a tech firm in Cambridge, Mass., that works with some of the world's biggest companies and banks, acknowledged the outage in a statement Thursday. The firm said it was "aware of the issue and actively working to restore services as soon as possible."

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Services have mostly been restored globally.

Internet monitoring websites showed dozens of disruptions early Thursday, the Associated Press reported. Westpac Bank, the Australia and New Zealand Banking Group and Australia Post, the country's postal service, were also among those affected by the outage. Downdetector, a website monitoring outages, noted that the websites for Frontier Airlines, Vanguard and E-Trade were briefly down.

The disruption came days after a massive outage struck large swaths of the Internet, causing the New York Times, Amazon, Hulu and other high-traffic websites to temporarily shut down. The problem appeared related to the San Francisco cloud services provider Fastly, which many companies use to help their websites load faster.

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A spokesman for Southwest told USA Today that "the pause in connectivity did not impact our operation." The airline has faced a bevy of tech issues that have caused flight delays and cancellations in recent days.

United Airlines responded to a Twitter user asking about the outage by saying the company was "experiencing technical issues and working promptly to fix them."

Banking institutions in Australia were particularly affected by Thursday's outage. The Reserve Bank of Australia, the country's central bank, was forced to cancel a bond-buying project because of the technical difficulties. A representative with the Commonwealth Bank of Australia said the bank was "seeing services return," while a spokesperson with Westpac apologized to customers for a third-party provider's disruption, "which impacted some of our services including Internet banking."

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The second outage is another example of how isolated disruptions can bring huge parts of online life to a halt. The pandemic-era shifts that sent more people to the Web for their groceries, work, school and health care have heightened the potential for broad shutdowns to cause real-world harm.

Similar outages have happened before. In 2019, Verizon accidentally routed much of its U.S. traffic to a single Internet service provider in Pennsylvania, causing sites such as Amazon and Facebook to stop working for many people. Last July, engineers at Cloudflare, which provides services similar to those of Fastly, accidentally pushed huge amounts of Internet traffic to a single data center in Atlanta, causing it to fail and take down websites such as Medium and the video game League of Legends.

The Washington Post

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