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Akamai software glitch provokes Web brownouts

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A glitch involving Akamai's content distribution network caused performance problems for a swathe of high profile websites on Monday.

Problems with Akamai's network affected access to AV updates from Symantec, McAfee and Trend Micro, streaming content from Apple and the performance of websites run by General Motors, Coca Cola and Verizon, according to net performance firm Netcraft. Akamai's system for spreading the load of serving content from heavily traffic websites across a worldwide network of between 12,000 to 15,000 servers is also used by Yahoo! and Microsoft.

Akamai has quashed early speculation that surfers' problems in accessing many of the sites it served on Monday afternoon was the result of a denial of service attack. A software glitch meant cached content was inadvertently flushed from its servers, making many sites difficult to reach on between 13:00 and 14:30 BST Monday, 24 May.

This - rather than a hacker attack - explained why some surfers trying to visit sites such as eBay, Yahoo! and MSNBC during the website brownout were served up with error messages. Not all Akamai's customers were affected. Once Akamai's network was fully repopulated with content the performance problems resolved themselves.

"All customers are back to being served normally," Jeff Young, director of public relations at Akamai, told Reuters. ®

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