UVA cybersecurity professors weigh in on the recent inaccessibility of major websites

UVA cybersecurity professors weigh in on the recent inaccessibility of major websites
Cradle to Career plans to help provide all families in the East Side Community with access to technology and internet access. (Source: Live 5/File)

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - Several major websites were briefly inaccessible early Tuesday morning. The sites all rely on Fastly, which is supposed to improve the speed of reliability for its sites.

University of Virginia professors who specialize in cybersecurity weighed in on the error to break it down to the community.

“What happened is they changed the configuration and it had unintended consequences,” Jack Davidson, a professor of computer science at UVA, said. “Because of the global breach of this, it’s hard to back it out, to kind of undo what you just did, it takes time.”

Some of the sites impacted include The New York Times, CNN, The Financial Times, Twitter, Twitch, Paypal, Etsy and Hulu. This widespread crash illuminates the vulnerability that comes with the internet and its focus on its biggest players.

“There’s the downside of that scale, it means that if there’s a failure, you’re talking about a failure on a massive scale,” Davidson said.

When users tried to access these sites, they got an error message saying “service unavailable.” It caused some concerns of a potential cybersecurity hack.

“If someone does want to do something malicious, and that was not the case here, they have a very valuable target to go after if they can succeed in compromising that target, maybe, they can bring down a large fraction at once,” David Evans, another professor of computer science at UVA said.

Fastly said it was not a cybersecurity hack and it fixed what was wrong, but this incident raises consciousness of the fragility of the systems we rely on every day.

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