Google insists cyberattack was not to blame for massive Gmail, YouTube and Snapchat outages

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Google has pledged to investigate the source of an hours-long outage that left popular services that rely on its cloud technology down for most of Sunday afternoon.

The search giant said YouTube, G Suite and Gmail were disrupted as a result of ‘high levels of network congestion,’ but that it intended to examine the issue further and make improvements to its systems to prevent a similar event from happening again.

Google also insisted that the widespread outages, which primarily affected service in the Eastern United States, but also stretched across the globe, were not a result of cyberattacks. 

The outage lasted from about 12:25 p.m. (ET) to about 4 p.m. (ET) on Sunday.

 

The firm said it’s still unclear what exactly led to the massive outage. 

Google said it would ‘conduct an internal investigation of this issue and make appropriate improvements to our systems to help prevent or minimize future recurrence,’ according to the New York Times.  

Aside from YouTube and Gmail, users reported having issues with G Suite, which includes more than a dozen Google services, like Hangouts, Drive, Docs, Sheets and Voice. 

Sites that rely on Google’s cloud computing infrastructure were also affected by the outage, such as Snapchat, Discord, Shopify and Apple’s iCloud storage service, which resulted in some slowdowns to iMessage, iMail, Photos and Documents in the Cloud. 

Some users also said they were having issues with third-party sites and applications including Pokemon Go, Uber, Uber Eats and Vimeo. 

What’s more, the outage even extended to some of Google’s Nest smart home devices that rely on Google Cloud for some functions. 

Many reported having issues accessing their Nest thermostats, Nest smart locks and Nest cameras during the outage, which may have prevented users from controlling their AC and keeping an eye on their homes, according to Fast Company. 

However, it only affected users who were controlling their smart home devices remotely, i.e. from the office or their car, as remote controls require a cloud connection. 

Users who were inside their home or outside their front door could still use the services, as they run on WiFi connections, which weren’t disrupted by the outage.

The outage likely wasn’t as disruptive as it would’ve been had it occurred on a weekday, but many users still took to Twitter to express frustration over the issue.

#YouTubeDOWN ranked first among trending topics in the US Sunday afternoon.  

Instead of seeing the usual menu of recommended videos, users who visited the YouTube homepage were gifted with a blank screen.

Most of the outages were reported along the US northeast coast, but many users in southern California, South America and Europe reported the site being down as well. 

The outage served to underscore just how widespread Google Cloud has become in popular sites in services. 

Amazon’s cloud computing platform, Amazon Web Services, suffered a similar outage in 2017, which the company later attributed to ‘human error.’ 

An Amazon employee accidentally took down a host of AWS servers when they were addressing a billing problem, resulting in services like Slack, Quora and others being down for hours. 

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