Akamai Disruption The Second Significant CDN Outage In Two Weeks


Staff Writer

A second significant systems outage in as many weeks impacted multiple organisations on Thursday afternoon. Among the 500 affected organisations were major financial institutions, airlines, social media sites and a stock exchange.

United States-based content delivery service provider Akamai experienced an outage for one of its Prolexic DDoS services (Routed 3.0) at 14:20 (Sydney time) on Thursday. Akamai says the impact was limited to approximately 500 customers using version 3.0 of the Routed service.

Akamai is a long-established cybersecurity, cloud service, and content delivery network (CDN) provider. They stress a system update or a cyberattack did not cause Thursday’s outage. In a statement issued overnight, Akamai said; “A routing table value used by this particular service was inadvertently exceeded. The effect was an unanticipated disruption of service.”

Akamai says most of its customers were automatically rerouted, quickly restoring their online platforms. The majority of the remaining customers were manually rerouted. Akamai had fully recovered from the outage by early evening.

In the interim, customers could not access online banking functionality at multiple financial institutions, including Westpac, Commonwealth Bank, and ANZ. The systems outage also impacted virgin Australia and the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. Australia Post confirmed it was experiencing some technical issues. Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram were also affected. Akamai acknowledged the impact of the outage in its statement.

The Akamai outage follows a similar outage at fellow CDN provider Fastly earlier this month. That outage resulted in hundreds of high traffic websites temporarily going down. In recent years, CDN industry leader Akamai has faced stiff competition from newer players like Fastly.

Akamai has 340,000 servers on its platform. Those servers are deployed in 4,100 locations across 130 countries. A substantial portion of the world’s internet traffic flows through Akamai’s services. IT businesses like Akamai promise to deliver their customers’ online content faster because they have servers located physically close to consumers.

Thursday’s outage has renewed calls for more CDN diversity. A small number of IT businesses, including Cloudflare, Akamai and Fastly, play a big role in keeping the internet up and running smoothly. When one of these companies experiences a disruption, the wider impact can be significant.

David Warburton of the cybersecurity company F5 Labs, says the concentration of CDN service providers will continue to cause problems.

“The web as a whole was intended to be decentralised. What we’ve seen over the past decade, however, is the unintentional centralisation of many core services through large cloud solution providers like infrastructure vendors and CDNs.

“Problems with a cloud solution provider can end up taking out all of their customers, resulting in not one website being taken offline, but hundreds or thousands.”

Following Thursday’s outage, Akamai says it is taking steps to prevent a recurrence. The business will also set up automatic rerouting for all its customers.