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While you were sleeping, most of the Internet broke

Our greatest fears have been realised. The Internet broke.

Imagine that, a world without dank memes, adorable cat videos and hot Instagram models…truly tragic.

It wasn’t quite the apocalypse for the Internet, but it’s about as close as we’ve ever been, as many of the world’s biggest websites came crashing down.

Here’s an incomplete list of sites that were heavily affected or crashed on Wednesday evening:

Pinterest
Airbnb
Netflix
Imgur
Spotify
Medium
Quora
Slack
Yahoo
Business Insider
Vox
Giphy
Trello

The tech nerds out there might have noticed a common thread between all of these sites and services – they all use Amazon Web Services.

AWS is Amazon’s cloud service that provides critical infrastructure for a bunch of the Internet’s heaviest hitters.

So when there was a massive glitch last night in AWS, everything got #REKT.

Amazon are yet to tell us all of the specifics of what happened, at the moment just saying AWS was experiencing a “higher error rate than normal”, which is frankly, an immense understatement.

“We’ve identified the issue as high error rates with S3 in US-EAST-1, which is also impacting applications and services dependent on S3. We are actively working on remediating the issue.”

Dave Bartoletti, an analyst from Forrester, told USA Today: “This is a pretty big outage.

“It’s got north of 3 to 4 trillion pieces of data stored in it.”

It goes to show the pretty serious pitfalls of having so many of the world’s biggest sites hosting their data with the one service.

While AWS is usually incredibly reliable, one problem can have catastrophic impacts across the entire network, and we could reasonably foresee the same problem happening again if there was to be an attack or breach.

The good news is that Amazon has identified the cause of the problem and is well on its way to getting everything back on its feet.

About the author

Technically, Riordan writes culture, politics and sport, but 80% of his words are direct quotes stolen from The Simpsons. He promises to tweet more at @riordanl and speaks words for The Zero Thumbs Down Podcast.

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