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Brief Internet Outage Caused by Juniper Firmware Update

Monday Internet surfers discovered that there were no virtual waves to ride for around 30 seconds. The "internet death" covered the entire nation, and although the downtime was more brief than a pair of thongs, reports of the outage lit up the newswire once consumers were able to get back online. Eventually Time Warner owned up to the problem, indicating that not every American was left watching Maury and Judge Judy Monday morning instead of reading online news and watching kittens via YouTube.

Ironically, the company made the problem known via Twitter (seriously?). "We appear to be recovering from a large but brief internet outage affecting most of our service areas," Time Warner said. "Please attempt to connect again." To Time Warner's defense, customers could still access the Twitter feed using mobile devices via Verizon, AT&T and so on despite how silly reporting an internet outage via Twitter actually sounds.

Then on Tuesday additional reports indicated that the nationwide outage actually only lasted for 10 to 15 seconds, and even affected numerous ISPs in the UK, including Eclipse Internet and Easynet. The problem, according to reports, was caused by a core dump of main memory on Juniper routers. The core memory dump affected routers running Junos 10.2 and 10.3, and was caused by a Border Gateway Protocol (BGP) update bug. These Juniper routers reside at tier one network provider Level 3 which routes internet traffic between the United States, the UK and the rest of the world.

"Shortly after 9am ET today, Level 3's network experienced several outages across North America and Europe relating to some of the routers on our network," Level 3 said on Monday. "Our technicians worked quickly to bring systems back online. At this time, all connection issues have been resolved, and we are working hard with our equipment vendors to determine the exact cause of the outage and ensure all systems are stable."

"This morning, Juniper learned of a Border Gateway Protocol edge router issue that affected a small percentage of customers," added Mark Bauhaus, Juniper executive vice president of services, support and operations. "A software fix is available, and we've been working with our customers to immediately deploy the fix."

Link-shortening service, CBS Interactive and RIM's BlackBerry service were just a few websites and online services that suffered an interruption thanks to the network outages across the globe. But as of Tuesday morning, the internet seemed to be up and running as usual. That said, the brief glitch caused by the router update on Monday leads us to wonder just how easy it would be for a terrorist to take down the entire global internet by injecting a malicious update. Scary.