internet outage

Widespread Outage Disrupts Major Retail, Financial, Travel, Olympic Websites Worldwide

Some of the world's largest financial, retail, travel and gaming websites were briefly unavailable as of midday Thursday

NBCUniversal Media, LLC

A widespread disruption caused severe outages for some of the world's biggest websites on Thursday afternoon - and it was all caused by a software update gone horribly wrong.

DownDetector.com showed a sharp and simultaneous spike in outage reports for prominent travel, retail, financial and gaming websites globally. In most cases, the spike in outage reports appeared to start around 11:40 a.m. ET.

Even the Tokyo Olympics website and app were reported to be intermittently down, just hours before the Opening Ceremony.

Some municipal governments reported disruptions to 911 service as well in places like Illinois and Virginia.

Akamai, which operates one of the world's largest and most crucial content delivery networks, reported a problem with its service at about 12:10 p.m. ET. Many partners, including Britain's National Health Service, specifically cited that disruption as a cause of the outage.

At 12:47 p.m. ET, Akamai tweeted that it had implemented a fix and that systems were returning to normal. The company later confirmed that the outage was not the result of a cyberattack - but rather, a bad software update that disrupted the DNS system, which directs users to websites.

"We apologize for the inconvenience that resulted. We are reviewing our software update process to prevent future disruptions," the company tweeted.

The outages did not appear to have any operating impact on the Tokyo Olympics, where competition was already underway ahead of the Opening Ceremony on Friday.

NBC Sports’ Mike Tirico said viewers can expect a “realistic, honest” opening ceremony. “It’s not in a vacuum,” Tirico said. “It’s understanding that people are hurting. There are difficult times."

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