Rapid disruption shows service providers’ ‘vulnerability’ to cyberattacks, experts say


The Fastly Internet disruption has exposed the vulnerability of online services that millions of people around the world rely on, cybersecurity experts have said.

The websites of the UK government, the White House and some of the world’s largest news organizations were offline for about an hour on Tuesday.

Fastly, a US-based company that operates a content delivery network underlying many major websites, said internal issues were at the root of the problem.

However, Madeline Carr, professor of global politics and cybersecurity at University College London, said the disruption shows how major websites depend on a handful of cloud-based providers overseas.

While there is no current evidence to suggest that Fastly’s disruption was a cyberattack, Professor Carr said the Internet’s “underlying infrastructure” was highly vulnerable to those seeking to cause damage.

“As we become more and more dependent on digital platforms to run the economy, e-commerce systems, payment gateways, government services, all kinds of services, we are really becoming more vulnerable,” he said. she declared. The National.

It shows that the underlying infrastructure is increasingly facing these problems. It has the ripple effect where these other websites fall. “

She said hackers are increasingly turning to private internet companies as a means to wreak havoc.

When asked how governments could prevent future disruptions, she replied that it was a complicated question, but that authorities should view the internet in the same way as other critical infrastructure, such as transportation and electricity.

“We need to discuss how robust these platforms are and what kind of processes and protections they have in place and if there is anything that can be improved,” she said.

“This is something that should be taken up by the G7. This is a global problem and we need cooperation to solve it.

Fastly’s stock price plunged 2% in pre-market trading after websites on the Internet became temporarily unavailable when the content delivery network’s services were discontinued.

The company, which is listed on the New York Stock Exchange and quickly distributes data to the web, said its services were back after an hour-long outage in its network caused UK government websites and from some of the biggest news organizations in the country. the world, including CNN, Bloomberg News and The New York Times, go down.

Financial analysts said the disruption has pissed off markets, with some investors retreating to assets seen as safe havens, such as US Treasuries.

“There was a brief impact as markets became concerned whether this was a deliberate attack and how far it would spread,” said Chris Beauchamp, chief market analyst at the trader. online global IG. The National.

“We have seen European markets retreat from today’s highs and US futures fall – a little – as well. The lack of further news today likely amplified the reaction. As soon as Fastly raised his hand to say he was facing a problem, we saw the clues straighten out as everyone heaved a sigh of relief.

U.S. Treasuries led global bonds higher after the disruption, which affected several global websites, boosted demand for safe-haven assets.

Ten-year Treasury yields fell as much as three basis points to 1.54%, the lowest level in more than a month, before easing the decline.

Other bond markets followed suit, with German and UK bonds also recovering.

“Fastly’s shares could be slightly affected as the outages could cause some companies to look elsewhere,” said Fawad Razaqzada, market analyst at Think Markets. The National.

The fault illustrated the dependence of the most popular pages on the internet on a handful of big tech companies to help them distribute content and host users.

Fastly’s technology is one of the few that acts as a top-notch website and application hosting service that large companies use to deliver content to millions of users simultaneously.

“Optimizing load times and protecting their websites from attacks are major issues for businesses that have an online presence — almost any business. However, technical problems can arise and some companies will forgive them, both off, ”Mr. Razaqzada said.

Mr Beauchamp said Fastly’s stock price would be under pressure after falling 2% in pre-market trading.

“But then it rose 7% yesterday, so it will be difficult to separate normal profit taking from fears of further blackouts,” he said.

Mr Razaqzada expects the potential decline in Fastly’s shares to be limited to 1 or 2% when the markets open.

Down Detector, a website that tracks downtime on the Internet, reported a sharp increase in user-reported issues with websites from Amazon and Spotify to Twitch, Shopify and Etsy on Tuesday.

Stuart Cole, chief macroeconomist at brokerage Equiti Capital, said that with the problem corrected an hour after the problem began, the economic fallout will not be “too great”.

However, he said the episode highlighted the issue of multiple customers using the same entity for their web services, leaving them more vulnerable to hackers.

“Companies like Fastly are a cloud-based entity, located between customers like Amazon and their users – the customers. They are designed to enable customers like Amazon to provide faster, more reliable service and to offer additional protection against hackers, ”said Cole. The National.

“If you were a hacker you would try to take down Fastly knowing it would cause trouble for all the customers who use it. So while they help improve security, they also add an additional layer of potential vulnerability. “

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