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Saturday, 18 July 2020 12:38

Iran wrongly blamed for Internet outage caused by Cloudflare error Featured

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Iran wrongly blamed for Internet outage caused by Cloudflare error Pixabay

An Internet outage in the US on Friday, which was blamed on Iran by a Twitter account known as AS-Source News that has now been deleted, was due to a configuration error on Friday made by Cloudflare staff, the company's chief executive Matthew Prince has acknowledged.

Prince, who has a history of being open about his company's mistakes, said he had confirmed "that the issue was caused by a mistaken configuration we were applying to a router during a routine update".

He said there was no attack. "It was not a failure of the router software." In a detailed blog post, Cloudflare's John Graham-Cumming said: "A configuration error in our backbone network caused an outage for Internet properties and Cloudflare services that lasted 27 minutes.

bogus tweet

The bogus tweet.

bogus tweet account

"We saw traffic drop by about 50% across our network. Because of the architecture of our backbone, this outage didn’t affect the entire Cloudflare network and was localised to certain geographies.

"The outage occurred because, while working on an unrelated issue with a segment of the backbone from Newark to Chicago, our network engineering team updated the configuration on a router in Atlanta to alleviate congestion.

"This configuration contained an error that caused all traffic across our backbone to be sent to Atlanta. This quickly overwhelmed the Atlanta router and caused Cloudflare network locations connected to the backbone to fail."

He said the locations affected were San Jose, Dallas, Seattle, Los Angeles, Chicago, Washington, DC, Richmond, Newark, Atlanta, London, Amsterdam, Frankfurt, Paris, Stockholm, Moscow, St. Petersburg, São Paulo, Curitiba, and Porto Alegre. Other locations were not affected.

Graham-Cummings provided the following timeline for the incident:

20:25: Loss of backbone link between EWR and ORD (6.25am Saturday AEDT)

20:25: Backbone between ATL and IAD is congesting

21:12 to 21:39: ATL attracted traffic from across the backbone

21:39 to 21:47: ATL dropped from the backbone, service restored

21:47 to 22:10: Core congestion caused some logs to drop, edge continues operating

22:10: Full recovery, including logs and metrics

To a question on Twitter from one Adriano Maia as to whether he would react the same way if there was a major breach, Prince said the company's method of operation had been the same for a long time and pointed to a 2012 blog to illustrate his point.


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Sam Varghese

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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