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San Diego Cyber Experts Explain Tuesday's Big Amazon Outage

NBCUniversal Media, LLC

If you use streaming services like Netflix or Disney+, or websites like Amazon, you may have noticed a pretty big disruption Tuesday.

That's because a major outage hit Amazon's cloud-computing technology, knocking out a variety of popular websites and apps. So, what happened, and how did "the cloud" manage to cripple parts of the internet?

"Amazon says “many” of its services have been restored after since the outage.
i spoke to some local tech experts about what exactly ‘cloud computing service” is – and how this outage managed to happen in the first place.

"[The cloud] affects so many people," cyber security expert Jim Stickley said. "Because nowadays, nobody hosts stuff in their own environment. Now, they put it all on the 'cloud,' so if something like this happens it’s catastrophic because it’s not one company that goes down, it’s hundreds, maybe thousands."

Stickely said cloud outages aren’t completely uncommon, but it was the duration of Tuesday's that packed a little more of a punch.

"So you were watching Netflix, for example, and I believe they said about 20% of the streaming service went down, but depending on where you were, suddenly you’re no longer streaming, a. At first, you’re like, 'Is my internet down?' Then when you realize it has nothing to do with you, you immediately start thinking, 'Oh, it’s Netflix.' But it wasn’t Netflix, it was Amazon."

University of San Diego professor of cyber security Nikolas Behar said the technical difficulties started around 7:45 a.m. on the West Coast. He said the outage impacted “Amazon Web Services” or AWS -- a division that supports about one-third of the internet that is accessed here in San Diego.

When referencing the cloud, Behar said it’s essentially like using somebody else's computer. Companies like Netflix utilize the Amazon Web Services, or AWS, console instead of using their own servers and equipment.

"What happened here is that there was an issue with one of their networking devices, so that could’ve happened because somebody pushed a bad configuration or somebody incorrectly updated a setting, or somebody tripped over a co," Behar said. We don’t really know what’s happening within the AWS.”

To Stickley, Tuesday's debacle "just shows how reliant we are on the cloud.”

A driver with a local third-party delivery service told NBC 7 that companies contracted with Amazon were also impacted. The driver said he and others were sent home for the da because they were unable to complete their deliveries.

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