According to Cloudflare’s status page, the web-infrastructure and security company had an outage between 2:30 a.m. ET and 4:06 a.m. The company has not revealed what exactly went wrong (I immediately imagine a summer intern having the worst day of their life). Downdetector reveals that the outage affected sites like Discord, Doordash, Shopify, Grindr, Peleton, and more.
Cloudflare, founded in 2010, is a reverse proxy for web traffic; it mediates the internet and physical servers that hold data. Without it, sites can be more vulnerable to cyberattacks and can be slower to load. Cloudflare has largely been a behind-the-scenes player save for a burst of attention in 2019 when it suspended service to 8chan, a message board that frequently contains extremist content. Cloudflare also teamed up with the Internet Archive to catalog the web. On a more fun note: its San Francisco office, has a wall full of lava lamps whose random motion can generate truly random numbers for cryptographic keys.
The internet equivalent of Suez Canal — Cloudflare has experienced similar outages in the past, most recently in the summer of 2020. Mass outages serve as a reminder that the digital services we use every day are tenuous. Increasingly consolidated internet services mean that there can be a single point of failure. Scary how a small error can decimate the internet as we know it.
The outage also left much of the crypto ecosystem in shambles, revealing a not-so-decentralized setup. Sites used for Web3 communities and coins such Etherscan, Quickswap, Uniswap, and Discord suffered from disturbances. Looks like Web3 still needs Web 2.0.