Dozens of websites across Britain, including those of major banks like Barclays, HSBC, Lloyds, Halifax, TSB, Tesco Bank, and the Bank of Scotland were brought down late Thursday 22 July by a major server outage that also struck tens of thousands of websites around the world.

Visitors attempting to reach the websites received DNS errors, meaning their requests could not reach the sites.

Among those affected were non-bank websites, including Airbnb, UPS, British Airways, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, and the PlayStation network used for online games.

CNN, The New York Times, Amazon, Shopify, PayPal, Reddit, the White House and British Government also lost service after a ‘service configuration’ at their server provider Fastly.

Not a cyber attack

The company at the centre of it all says the downtime was not the result of a hack, data breach or other kind of malicious attack.

Internet infrastructure company Akamai said it has fixed the issue that it began investigating shortly after noon EST. The specific problem was with Akamai Edge DNS, a service that touts its ability to provide constant Domain Name System availability.

The Domain Name System converts website name requests to internet protocol addresses.

“Akamai can confirm this was not a cyberattack against Akamai’s platform,” the company said in a statement.

“A software configuration update triggered a bug in the DNS system, the system that directs browsers to websites,” the company said in a statement explaining what went wrong. “This caused a disruption impacting availability of some customer websites.”

Before the hour ended, Akamai said the problem had been resolved.

At least some 33,000 websites were affected

Services that track internet outages saw figures rise as high as nearly 33,000 around the time of Akamai’s problems, although they didn’t explicitly link the two.

Widespread internet outages often trigger panic and speculation about cyberattacks, but frequently, innocent technical issues at DNS providers are to blame.

The outages also feature amateur sleuthing about which companies are responsible, and early suspicions this time focused on Oracle and Akamai.

“We are monitoring a global issue related to a partner Edge DNS provider that is impacting access to many internet resources, including Oracle cloud properties,” Oracle said.

“Resources within the Oracle cloud are continuing to run and are not impacted by this event.”