Gerry Morley - Director of Cyber Security No Comments

If your favourite website or internet related service wasn’t accessible or working right yesterday it may not have been just you.

Amazon Web Services

Yesterday, Amazon Web Services S3 system which hosts well over a hundred thousand websites experienced a major outage for between 4 and 5 hours yesterday. Many popular websites (Netflix, Instagram, Spotify, Pinterest, Slack, Trello, Buzzfeed, Reddit, IFTTT, Quora, Splitwise and Medium to name a few) use Amazon’s S3 system and users of these popular sites may have experienced slowness in accessing such services.

Unbeknownst to users familiar with Amazon’s online shopping website, Amazon Web Services is a giant provider of the back-end of the Internet. It provides cloud-based storage and web services for companies so they don’t have to build their own server farms, allowing them to rapidly deploy computing power without having to invest in infrastructure.

While not all AWS customers were affected by the outage at one of AWS’s main storage systems, many experienced slowdowns in website reaction times, after a big portion of its S3 system went offline. Amazon wasn’t able to update its own service health dashboard for the first two hours of the outage because the dashboard itself was hosted on AWS.

“We’ve identified the issue as high error rates with S3 in US-EAST-1,” Amazon explains on its services tracking page, adding that the issue “is also impacting applications and services dependent on S3.

The issue appears to have been resolved but these instances are always a great reminder of how much of the internet relies on just a handful of huge companies to keep it up and running and even massive companies like Amazon can have unforeseen issues which cause downtime.  Unfortunately, there will always be “ghosts” in the machine, and just like cyber-attacks, downtime at some stage is inevitable for nearly every business. It’s a case of “when” not “if” it will happen to you. That’s why it’s so important to have a backup, disaster recovery and business continuity plan for your own business so you can be best prepared to continue to maintain operations and service your customers even when issues happen.

Sources: USA Today, Engadget, Verge, BGR