While I think we can all agree that as far as years go, this year is definitely going down in the history books as a bad year, the week of July 13, 2020 should have its own footnote in what will assuredly be a voluminous chapter on 2020. Depending on your usage of the internet and technology, you might not have even noticed, but for those of us in the trenches of IT support, July 15th will live in infamy.
I’m being a little dramatic…but only a little.
There is a stereotypical scene that is used frequently in movies where something disastrous happens off-camera while a bunch of people are in the same room. Simultaneously, all of their phones/pagers start going crazy and the scene explodes into frantic activity. That was July 15th around 9am when everyone tried to launch Outlook to read their email and instead they were greeted with an error and crash. Everyone at C2’s phones and email started lighting up with frantic calls and texts. “My Outlook is crashing and today is not a good day for that to be happening,” was one of the more polite calls I received from a client. Turns out, Microsoft issued an update to recent versions of Outlook that just outright broke the application, and thanks to Windows 10’s unavoidable update cadence, millions of people woke up to Outlook not working. Through some sort of miracle, Microsoft actually managed to fix this colossal cock-up around noon Pacific, but for several hours it was quite tense at Chez C2.
A few hours later, we get the somewhat humorous news that several high-profile Twitter accounts have been hacked, and not only that, but that the hack had been used to push one of the oldest cons in the book. While the victims probably don’t find much to laugh about, when Bill Gates, Elon Musk and Barrack Obama offers to double any amount of Bitcoin sent to them, and you just (barely) lived through the Outlook debacle not 2 hours prior, you are going to have a good chuckle. The hackers chose chaos instead of outright villainy, but they still took in over $100k in Bitcoin before Twitter regained control of the accounts in question. We’re 20 years into the new millennia and suckers are still being born every minute.
And in case your week wasn’t fun enough, domain name service provider Cloudflare broke half the internet two days later. Literally. Cloudflare provides domain name services for a very large number of websites and services, including those that provide status on things like DNS and internet outages, leading many people to believe there was an active attack on the internet. Sadly, it wasn’t that exciting, but a self-inflicted wound delivered to a key router somewhere in Atlanta, Georgia causing a cascading failure similar to what happens to power grids when a critical transformer blows. Supposedly the problem was fixed within 30 minutes of it being identified, but as you are all now painfully aware – 30 minutes without internet (or email) feels like an eternity during the middle of a work day.
Is it 2021 yet?