A major outage at content delivery network Cloudflare caused hundreds of websites across the internet to stop working and return a ‘500 Internal Server error’ message this morning.
A content delivery network (CDN) is a distributed group of severs around the world that work in unison. Websites use these CDNs to deliver content from the cloud safely and as quickly as possible.
Cloudflare is the most popular content delivery network by some margin.
Websites affected by the outage included Discord, Shopify, Fitbit, Peloton, Grindr, Ring, bet365, Google, NordVPN, JustEat and Ladbrokes, according to Downdetector, which monitors website outages.
Cloudflare acknowledged the issue in an update on its official Twitter account.
‘The Cloudflare team is aware of the current service issues and is working to resolve as quickly as possible,’ it stated.
The company now claims to have resolved the issue.
The issue prompted many internet users to express their distress about ‘large chunks of the internet’ returning a 500 Internal Server Error on social media.
‘Did the internet just go down? Getting a 500 internal server error across several websites,’ wrote one Twitter user.
‘Downdetector is down, Discord is down, League of Legends Servers are down, Valorant is down. Huge internet outage happening,’ wrote another.
‘Half the internet is down because of some cloudflare issue giving a 500 server internal nginx error. Pingu is taking over the world as we speak. Twitter is next. It’s over folks. Noot noot,’ wrote another.
‘And you thought the train strike was bad…’ said cybersecurity expert Graham Cluley.
‘When many websites are reliant on a single technology, there’s always the risk it may be a single point of failure.’
Jake Moore, Global Cybersecurity Advisor at ESET Internet Security told MailOnline: ‘There seems to be a problem with Cloudflare and a fix is being implemented but in the meantime users may be frustrated with the amount of services offline.
‘It just goes to show how the majority of the internet still funnels through a small series of lines which puts major pressure on these platforms which are designed to offer protection and reliability.
‘When problems occur, havoc can erupt in cyberspace. Unfortunately, these are becoming more commonplace.’
It is not yet clear what caused the outage, but Cloudflare was quick to identify the issue and implement a fix.
John Graham-Cumming, CTO of Cloudflare, said on a Hacker News thread that it was not a worldwide outage, but ‘a lot of places’ were impacted.
‘Problem with our backbone. We know what. Rollbacks etc. happening,’ he said.
Moore explained: ‘Each request from a browser responds with a status. When you visit a website and are met with a 500 Internal Server error message, it means there is a problem with the website.
‘Usually no information is offered as to why but in more and more cases these days the problem lies with the content delivery network.
‘CDNs are battling increasing traffic which is often the cause of outages.’
Cloudflare’s service status page states: ‘A critical P0 incident was declared at approximately 06:34AM UTC. Connectivity in Cloudflare’s network has been disrupted in broad regions,’ the company states on its System Status page.
‘Eyeballs attempting to reach Cloudflare sites in impacted regions will observe 500 errors. The incident impacts all data plane services in our network.’