Ranging from Google Calendar to Gmail and YouTube, Monday’s outrage led to putting work to a halt for people. Moreover, it also included Google’s two-factor authentication, which incorporated a significant part of the outage. Underscoring the easy-to-use systems and hidden costs that permeate the internet, Google’s nod off for only an hour pointed to a major attack restricting billions of users to access regular internet services.
With the reach of Google and the services of the scale, it is significant to notice that an outage can affect all users and services. It is because even from a particular geography, users happen to be hosted beyond multiple servers worldwide.
What Happened on Monday?
Google services ranging from YouTube to Google Drive to Gmail went through a mass outage that lasted over an hour on Monday. Globally, users seemed to complain that they were not able to access emails or were logged out of Google meet sessions. With Google restoring all the services within an hour of the mass outage, the knockdown crash has turned out to be one of the greatest social media trends. It sent panic tremors throughout organizations in various regions worldwide.
Google professionals attributed the outage of one hour to an internal storage quota problem. According to them, services demanding users to log in went through high error rates throughout this time. No matter that Google restored the services within an hour, apologizing to all users that were affected and promising them about the crash restoration led to a detailed follow-up review on the professional spot for making sure that this problem would not happen in the future.
Impact of the Google Crash
Google’s Monday blackout indicates how far-reaching and controlled is the effect of having a particular point of failure within the centralized system. Users had no idea about the crash when features and services essential to regular life were suddenly gone. Moreover, they had much less control over bringing back the services, thereby sitting helplessly.
The Effect of Incognito Mode
Being too early to determine what precisely might have happened, experts suggested that services demanding either a Google account or Google authorization have been impacted. Moreover, the fact that users could still access YouTube while using incognito mode suggested that it happened to be an authentication problem.
Assuming the worst is a basic trait of human nature, however, there is not anything to suggest that this implied a malicious security-related problem yesterday.
Centralization and its Limits
When it comes to Google’s infrastructure, it is distributed with servers throughout all continents. All of these are based on each other and are managed centrally. Being upgraded centrally, they communicate with each other not only by utilizing the same protocol but with the help of shared software that happens to be operated by the identical employees.
While the Monday Google crash happens to be because of internal technological problems, it appears as one of the most sophisticated cyber attacks the US government has witnessed in years, as per news.
With allegedly state and nation directed hackers infiltrating the commerce and treasury departments of The United States of America with the help of standard remote updates of SolarWinds injecting malicious codes within a variety of systems, it happens to be on the heels of one of the most critical attacks. SolarWinds develops software for managing networks that includes hundreds of clients among the Fortune 500 organizations and other Government companies.
Including the US defense department, The Secret Service, the National security agency, Lockheed Martin, and the Federal Reserve, the new update enabled tye fraudulent hackers to access internal mails at numerous agencies with the help of Microsoft office 365. Till now, it happens to be unclear what else that can perform or access.
The infrastructure security and the US cybersecurity, in a rare move, issued emergency directives that summoned Federal civil companies for reviewing the networks concerning indicators of disconnection or compromises of SolarWinds products instantly. These automatic updates and single points of entry are managed by a central indicator, thereby ensuring that users can access them and they work smoothly. However, it has led to siloing power within the hands of some message centralized organizations like internet service providers, Google, and others.
Google’s Take on Solving the Issue
Initially, Google acknowledged that there remained an underlying issue that was associated with Gmail. The status page displayed red for various services for some time. This problem, related to Gmail, affected a majority of internet users. The users who were affected and were unable to get access to Gmail led to a mass outage on Monday.
Apart from the mass outage, Google has resolved the issue within an hour. With system reliability being a top priority for Google, the professionals are making regular improvements for making their systems better for users. Throughout the world, this happens to be critical because businesses and additional important services utilize paid and free Google products for a host of reasons. Therefore, an outage mid-workday did not go well particularly with paid users.
As per Google, more than 6 million organizations utilize G suite, popularly recognized as Google Workspace now as of March. It provides the professionals with some sense of the scale of the disruption the Monday outage has caused. Maintaining Gmail access was the most essential communication challenge at the time of the outage. To decrease the risk of its effect and downtime on the productivity of businesses, organizations had fallback solutions, for instance, third party providers securing Gmail and offering emergency inbox services. Those can be accessed by a webmail style interface providing access to receive and send emails, even when Google services remain offline.
Was Everything Affected?
With YouTube and Gmail holding together beyond 3.5 billion users globally, it is evident to say that the Monday outage affected almost all users and services. As per news reports, 112000 issues on the YouTube portal, and approximately 40,000 issues for the Gmail portal from users in various regions of the world were reported.
Importance of Google Outage
The Google outage on Monday gains importance provided that there remained a surge in global users concerning online services, and particularly in those given by Google.
Questions are likely to be asked on whether the backend infrastructure of such organizations remained strong enough to handle this spike in load, that beyond a huge period.
Organizations relying on Google for their backend services are likely to be worried regarding the impact of the Monday outage, particularly a longer one in the future.
Google requires to address this problem because there has been a huge surge in users throughout the online services as Google services remain pretty popular among netizens. Professional servicing questions whether Google is strong enough to tackle the spike and load.
As per professionals, if a tech giant like Google can go through such a major attack, it indicates that beneath the surface of dazzling web interfaces we witness regularly, the web infrastructure truly hangs within a vulnerable and delicate balance.
Coming Back to Power with Decentralized Architecture
While there happened to be some early pushback including antitrust situations against Facebook and Google in the US, additionally there also have been comprehensive lobbying attempts on behalf of such behemoths for maintaining their power in regions like the European Union. As per Canadian and British technical bloggers, these companies happen to be just old fashioned businesses. Such organizations cannot grow due to certain properties of data on network glitches. It is simply because they acquired all their competitors which can be considered something that happened to be illegal before but are presently legal.
Decentralized architecture restricts this kind of centralized control by its design and ensures that no one can make a decision update or call that might influence millions and billions of users. As per news reports, the implications of this, concerning the public disclosure led to debate related to content moderation on social media. However, when it comes to Google, centralized data constructions and power reveal the long shadow these organizations cast over increasingly critical and seemingly mundane parts of our lives. To avoid problems, companies need to be dedicated to decentralization other than building hybrid models.
No wonder smartly combining the security and robustness of decentralization along with the simplicity associated with centralized services happens to be the best for clients in various cases, but this might lead to further problems in the future.
Decentralization comes with a lot of advantages for end-users and is generally harder because these benefits of greater robustness and stability do not manifest themselves regularly. It refers to a division of a group of activities and functions into relatively autonomous units with overall responsibility and authority for their operation delegates to various parties. Facilitating diversification of its activities and beginning the additional distributions, only during the time of errors or failures, Google users can benefit from the merits of decentralization. The points can provide a better insight into the same:
- Decentralized structures come with a peer to peer architecture. In this case, all nodes refer to the peers of one another. No particular note comes with the supremacy over other nodes.
- A decentralized architecture mimics the master-slave architecture. One note can turn out to be a master by voting and helping and coordinating a portion of the system, however, this does not indicate that the node possesses supremacy over the additional note which it happens to be coordinating.
- With a decentralized architecture, there are minimal problems with performance errors occurring. Here the entire load becomes balanced on each of the nodes leading to no or minimal error situations.
- Decentralized nodes are always highly available for work, such as servers, computers, and mobiles.
- A decentralized architecture comes with more control and autonomy over resources. As every node controls its particular behavior, it comes with better autonomy leading to more authentication and control over resources.
- Decentralized systems are private networks with peer nodes joining each other for making a private network.
- Decentralized systems can be utilized for exchanging cryptocurrency as nodes join to turn out to be a portion of the system in which digital currency happens to be exchanged without any location or trace of who sent what to whom.
Final Remarks on Google Outage
The google outage might have remained for a brief while, but it led to services becoming offline for less than an hour. It happened to be an unnerving reminder of only how dependent millions of people have turned out to be on the services in the cloud. Any user who attempted to respond to an urgent Gmail or attempted to open a Google document yesterday has gone through a sense of dread when it gave back a message like “Please try reloading this page” or “Come back after a few minutes.”
The worldwide pandemic has revealed the value of services like the Google cloud platform that can help keep our workforce united productively from home. People are getting used to the new normal with home office cultures, thereby looking forward to a work culture that is more comfortable and productive. However, businesses opting for Google cloud have gone through a lot by the incident of yesterday, no matter how brief it was. They are looking forward to knowing what precisely went wrong and to receive assurances that it would not ever happen again.
With Google pacifying users about their services being restored and apologizing to all users affected, somehow users are still in shock regarding their difficulties caused over the period of one hour. But, Google professionals are still ensuring users worldwide about the glitch restoration and processes being solved, thereby hoping to get a better response from the users worldwide.