Sunday, August 18, 2013

Google outage prompts concern and speculation

Internet traffic plunged on Friday for between one and five minutes after Google suffered an unexplained outage on all its services.

The event began at approximately 16:37 Pacific Time and lasted between one and five minutes, according to the Google Apps Dashboard. All of the Google Apps services reported being back online by 16:48.

The incident apparently blacked out every service Mountain View has to offer simultaneously, from Google Search to Gmail, YouTube, Google Drive, and beyond.

Google has experienced outages before affecting a single service, sometimes for more than an hour. But the fact that this outage affected all of Google's services has left many puzzling as to why as well as raising concerns over reliance of cloud-based services.

According to web analytics firm GoSquared, Internet traffic around the world fell by around 40% during the blackout, reflecting Google's massive grip on the web.

"That's huge," GoSquared developer Simon Tabor told Sky News. "As internet users, our reliance on being up is huge."

Computer website writer Neil McAllister added said technical experts would be 'nervous' as they sought to find out what happened. "Exactly how an operation like Google's can even go dark like that, all at once, is anybody's guess," he said.

Bulletin boards and news websites were full of speculation from the funny to the paranoid. One person jokingly suggested someone accidentally knocked out a plug at the Chocolate Factory while others pointed to solar activity. There was also the speculation of hacking or a cyberattack. "I wonder if China perhaps has anything to say about this?", wrote thinker1983 on the Daily Mail website. Such a glitch even prompted some to suggest it was the beginning of a "fire sale" a term used to describe a possible scenario where hackers might bring down the entire Internet and everything connected with it.

While there were many 'experts' willing to air their opinion, Google were less than forthcoming. "We're aware of a problem with Gmail affecting a significant subset of users. The affected users are able to access Gmail, but are seeing error messages and/or other unexpected behavior," the company said of one of it's services at the time. A similar message was posted concerning all it's other services.

A later message said, "Between 15:51 and 15:52 PDT, 50% to 70% of requests to Google received errors; service was mostly restored one minute later, and entirely restored after four minutes."

More reports: NY Daily News / D Mail / Register

tvnewswatch, Kunming, Yunnan, China

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