Playstation Network, Steam, Banks, and More Knocked Offline by Massive Internet Outage

Playstation Network, Steam, Banks, and More Knocked Offline by Massive Internet Outage
Photo: ROBYN BECK/AFP, Getty Images

A massive internet outage appears to have incapacitated services connected to droves of businesses, banks, government offices, and more, knocking a variety of popular websites and services offline.

On Thursday, DownDetector began showing reports of mass user accessibility issues for the likes of American Express, Capital One, Fidelity, Airbnb, Sony’s Playstation Network, and many others.

Going to a number of these sites proved many of them are having trouble resolving. An attempt to reach the gaming streaming service Steam, for instance, yields a “Service Unavailable – DNS failure” message.

Meanwhile, Sony recently put out a statement in regards to ongoing PNS issues: “PlayStation Network services are up and running, but there are external, internet-wide issues that might affect your experience,” it says.

While it’s unclear what the ultimate source of these issues is, two major providers of internet services — Akamai and Amazon — would appear to be having problems.

DownDetector shows Amazon Web Services users have reported ongoing disruptions. Meanwhile, major DNS provider Akamai reported Thursday that its Edge DNS was having trouble. Edge is a cloud-based, high-performance domain name system service that many businesses rely on. At 12:09 p.m. EST, the company said:

We are aware of an emerging issue with the Edge DNS service.

We are actively investigating the issue. If you have questions or are experiencing impact due to this issue, please contact Akamai Technical Support.

A number of security experts pointed the finger at Edge as being the culprit behind. However, just prior to publication at around 1:15 pm ET, Akamai updated its status from having issues to “operational,” so this whole thing could be cleaned up soon.

We’ll keep tabs on the outage and update this space as things (hopefully) start to return to normal.

UPDATE, July 23, 4:40 a.m. AEST:

As of 1:09 p.m. EST, Akamai said that it had fixed the issue at hand. “This incident has been mitigated,” the firm’s website claims.

The company has further elaborated that the incident was “not a result of a cyberattack on the Akamai platform.” Instead, the company says that “a software configuration update triggered a bug in the DNS system, the system that directs browsers to websites. This caused a disruption impacting availability of some customer websites.”

“The disruption lasted up to an hour. Upon rolling back the software configuration update, the services resumed normal operations. Akamai can confirm this was not a cyberattack against Akamai’s platform,” the company added. “We apologise for the inconvenience that resulted. We are reviewing our software update process to prevent future disruptions.”

Often compared to a “phone book,” the Domain Name System (DNS) is a critical element of web infrastructure that determines how IP addresses resolve to specific websites. Suffice it to say, without functional DNS, you can’t connect to the sites you want to access.

Providers of DNS services, like Akamai, have the responsibility of keeping things running smoothly for many large businesses, upon whom millions of web users rely. Edge is used by a whole helluva lot of large companies — which explains the scope of today’s big takedown.

UPDATE, July 23, 5:30 a.m. AEST: While there had been early reports of potential problems with Amazon Web Services (AWS), the company reached out to inform us that it has not experienced any issues with its systems and that the problem lies solely with Akamai. A spokesperson emailed Gizmodo, providing the following statement: “There are reports of issues related to a Content Delivery Network (Akamai) outside of Amazon’s Network. We have investigated AWS services such as Amazon Route 53 and Amazon CloudFront and these services are all operating normally at this time.”