Backup plans in place for government websites, says Smart Nation group in wake of global Internet outage

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Government websites can restore their services if their content delivery network (CDN) providers fail, the Smart Nation and Digital Government Group (SNDGG) said on Monday evening (Jun 14).

CDN providers typically operate data centres around the world and host copies of organisations’ websites on their servers for faster loading of webpages, improving users’ web surfing experience.

These providers include cloud-based services like Amazon Web Services, Akamai, Cloudflare and Fastly.

The issue grabbed headlines after a Fastly-linked glitch took down thousands of government, news and social media websites across the globe on Jun 8.

High-traffic sites including Reddit, Amazon, CNN, PayPal, Spotify, Al Jazeera Media Network and the New York Times went down, according to outage tracking website Downdetector.com.

The United Kingdom’s gov.uk domain was also hit, with users unable to book COVID-19 tests through government websites, according to The Guardian.

Fastly said on Jun 9 that the hour-long outage was caused by a software bug triggered when one of its customers changed their settings.

The outage raised questions about the resilience of the Internet with major websites relying on just a few CDN providers in the world.

In response to queries from CNA, SNDGG said the Government uses various CDN providers that are “globally recognised with proven track records”.

They are selected based on factors like network size and distribution, as well as their ability to mitigate security risks, SNDGG said.

“Procedures are in place to restore services for such situations including redirecting traffic to government servers for prolonged outages,” a spokesperson said.

 

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