Akamai Went Down, And it Broke the Internet

Today’s outage was resolved quickly. A future cyberattack may not be.

Thomas Smith
OneZero
Published in
4 min readJul 22, 2021

--

Courtesy Gado Images.

If you tried to access any of several thousand large websites this morning, you likely noticed strange issues. Pages wouldn’t load, normally snappy screens took forever to access, and 404 errors abounded.

The issue may have thrown a wrench into your morning plans if you sought to book a flight, check your bank balance, track a package, or trounce an opponent in any of several popular videogames. That’s because the websites for Southwest Airlines, popular banks including Fidelity and US Bank, both Fedex and UPS, and the Playstation Network (as well as videogame provider Steam) all experienced issues, according to network monitoring service Down Detector.

What happened, and who broke the Internet? It turns out the widespread issues were the result of a problem with DNS services provided by Akamai, a Content Delivery Network (CDN) vendor. Unless you work in web tech, you’ve probably never heard of Akamai. But as today’s massive outage makes clear, thousands of major websites, apps and other services rely on the company’s Edge DNS network — which securely routes traffic based on domain names — in order to operate. And when that network does down, so do huge swatches of the Internet.

--

--