Daily News Analysis

Internet Vulnerability

11th June, 2021 Security and Defence

GS PAPER III: Security challenges and their management in border areas - linkages of organized crime with terrorism.

Context: The Fastly internet outage raises questions about how vulnerable the global internet is to more serious disruption.

What is the issue?

  • A little-known firm that speeds up access to websites knocked a lot of top internet destinations offline on Tuesday, disrupting business and leisure for untold millions globally.
  • Fastly is a company known for its “edge server” computing technology. It is used by many of the world’s most popular websites, such as The New York Times, Shopify, the Guardian, Ticketmaster, Pinterest, Etsy, Wayfair and Stripe. The British government is among its clients.
  • The company provides what’s called a content delivery network — an arrangement that allows customer websites to store data such as images and videos on various mirror servers across 26 countries so that the data is closer to users, and thus shows up faster.
  • Fastly protect these website data from denial-of-service attacks and disruption from spikes in traffic.

Are other parts of the internet similarly vulnerable?

  • Like the content distribution network world, cloud computing — when computing services are entrusted to a remote provider — is dominated by just a few major players led by Amazon Web Services, Google and Microsoft.
  • Amazon, the biggest cloud provider, periodically has brief outages, which are a big deal for customers.
  • And if it became a major outage of, say, more than six, eight hours — but days — it could put companies out of business.

What could cause such a serious outage that might destroy customer data?

  • A major cyberattack is one possibility.
  • Another is fire or catastrophic natural disaster.