When a shocking bombshell of a news comes out to the general public, some like to say that “it broke” the internet. However, it was last June 8th that a sizable portion of the internet broke, at least to those users who tried to visit some of the most popular webpages in the world.
As cases of Cyber Criminal hacking critical infrastructure in the United States have come to life and have been on the news lately, the short-lived outage was felt when users tried to access giants like Amazon, Target or even Reddit.
The worldwide global infrastructure
The worldwide global infrastructure that allows the delivery of internet services for those giants depend on CDN’s or content delivery networks. Those services are the interface between the users and the servers of the big companies that offer information or services. Numerous sectors like banks, news outlets and social media giants are all dependent on those CDNs which offer the capability for users to open the content they want using a computing infrastructure closest to them.
All internet infrastructure is vulnerable to errors and also attacks from cyber criminals but the concentration of so much computing internet infrastructure in a very small number of companies has been deemed by internet experts as dangerous.
The risk is that CDN’s can come under attack by hackers and cause massive internet content access failures is a clear and present danger. It has happened with giant cloud services that hosts many of the large companies with heavy internet presence and occasional outages have happened.
However, in this CDN case which took around 85% of the network operated by Fastly happened due to a mere software bug. Fastly is one of the smallest CDN services that offer services on a global basis. Experts argue that if properly targeted, larger CDN services like Cloudflare could generate a larger outage in a massive scale.
However, if the attack happens, some industry experts predict that it will a significant disruption that slows down the delivery of content, but even so, the users will be able to get what they need, just much slower than it is possible at peak speeds.
For now, the internet can still “break” due to big news, but it is only a matter of time to learn of a possible hacking by sophisticated actors to the CDNs that represent such a critical part of the global internet service delivery for uses around the world.
That is precisely the type of news that will break the internet when it happens.