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Cyberattack not to blame for worldwide online outages

Last Updated Jul 22, 2021 at 3:10 pm MDT

A BMO issue message shown to users upon login. (Andrew Osmond, 680 NEWS)
Summary

Many banks, businesses in Canada, around the world experienced outages with their websites and apps Thursday


Cybersecurity expert says outage appears to have been linked to a technical issue with a DNS provider, not a hack


Akamai Technologies says the outages were "not a result of a cyberattack on the Akamai platform."


VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) –  After website outages were reported around the world Thursday morning, the company at the centre of it all is reassuring the public their personal information is not at risk.

Customers complained of issues with accessing their online banking and using apps, including with several Canadian banks, like Scotiabank, BMO, and RBC.

Businesses were also experiencing massive website issues, with people around the world saying they couldn’t get onto sites or log into their accounts. Companies impacted included Airbnb, Air Canada, Southwest Airlines, Playstation Network, and HBO.

Akamai Technologies, which many businesses and organizations rely on as a DNS provider, says the outages were “not a result of a cyberattack on the Akamai platform.”

Akamai confirmed it had implemented a fix for the service disruption issue, and by Thursday afternoon services had resumed.

 

Many institutions acknowledged intermittent outages, while others said they weren’t experiencing any.

But concerns over how it happened remain.

With many posts on social media saying that they experienced outages affecting banks in the U.S., Australia, and the U.K.

While there’s no word on exactly what caused the outages, cybersecurity expert Dominic Vogel provided more details into how this could happen to a DNS provider.

“The non-technical way of describing DNS, think of it almost as a phone book,” he explained. “It’s basically a way to look up where a website lives. So, something has happened there, and if people look for websites, like bmo.com as an example, they are unable to find the address as to where that website lives.”

Vogel says there was definitely a lack of clarity at the onset of the outages. However, he applauds Akamai’s steps to be transparent.

“No need to jump into panic. This stuff does happen and will happen. The internet isn’t always ‘up’ and I think people sometimes forget that there is a mostly fragile infrastructure that does support the internet. So it being down isn’t necessarily reason for concern, but I think it’s important that we check in and see what Akamai is up to and the updates they’re giving throughout the day.”

-With files from Martin MacMahon