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18 Jun 2024

How to Fix Internet Outages and Connectivity Disruptions

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Sharon Duchin
how to fix internet outage
Table of Contents

Internet outages manifest in different forms, ranging from complete loss of connectivity to agonizingly slow speeds that render cloud-based applications and video conferencing tools virtually unusable. These connectivity issues stem from a variety of factors, including network congestion, equipment failure, cybersecurity risks, geopolitical issues, and natural disasters affecting internet service providers.

In today’s business landscape, where remote work and global collaboration are the norm, a stable internet connection is like electricity—it’s an absolute necessity. So CEOs are increasingly taking action to bolster network resilience. 

According to McKinsey, network resilience is key to supporting digital transformation efforts, and organizations with resilient networks are 85% more likely to successfully implement digital strategies. Another survey, by Gartner, shares that the average cost of network downtime is around $5,600 per minute. CEOs are concerned about such costs, as they directly impact revenue and customer satisfaction. Telcos are increasingly worried, too. Downtime not only hurts a telco’s brand reputation but also creates customer churn. Though new and predominantly AI-driven technologies offer solutions to these challenges, many of the telco operators surveyed in this Kearney report say “half of their large-scale outages in recent years were driven by incidents in the management plane.” In other words, bad planning.

Promoting network resilience within an organization falls squarely on the shoulders of lT teams, who are tasked with introducing best practices and taking proactive measures to prevent costly outages. This article examines what can go wrong, and how IT teams can effectively mitigate it.

Why Teridion?

Teridion’s innovative AI-powered, fully managed Network as a Service provides a reliable and performance-driven connectivity backbone, ensuring seamless global operations and minimizing the impact of internet outages.

Common Causes of Internet Outages and How to Fix Them

Network Congestion

As businesses adopt cloud services, video conferencing, and other bandwidth-intensive applications, network congestion can become a significant issue. The internet’s core protocols, such as TCP/IP and BGP, were designed for reliability and stability rather than optimizing for network congestion. TCP/IP governs how data is transmitted over the internet, while BGP handles routing decisions between networks. However, these protocols lack dynamic mechanisms to detect and adapt to real-time traffic conditions.

Without a feedback loop that allows Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to adjust routing paths based on actual traffic volumes, it becomes challenging to avoid routing traffic through already congested networks. This limitation can lead to increased latency, packet loss, and degraded performance for businesses relying on cloud services, video conferencing, and other bandwidth-intensive applications.

As the global population continues to gain internet access, the demand for bandwidth and the volume of internet traffic are continuously increasing. However, the underlying protocols that govern internet traffic have not evolved at the same pace, resulting in suboptimal performance and congestion when networks become overloaded.

Bad Peering

Peering refers to the interconnection arrangements between Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and large network operators, known as Dominant Internet Authorities (DIAs), that facilitate the exchange of internet traffic across different geographic regions. While peering plays a crucial role in enabling global connectivity, the routing decisions made during this process are primarily driven by cost control rather than optimizing for speed or performance.

Since DIAs rely solely on cost-related metrics to make peering decisions, without considering factors such as network congestion or latency, internet performance becomes a “best effort” scenario. There is no mechanism in place that allows DIAs to dynamically adjust routing paths based on real-time network conditions or user experience metrics.

As a result, internet traffic may be routed through suboptimal paths or congested networks, leading to poor performance and potential outages for businesses. This issue is exacerbated when peering agreements between DIAs are inadequate or poorly managed, resulting in inefficient traffic routing and increased vulnerability to network disruptions.

The lack of a performance-driven approach in peering arrangements means that businesses can experience degraded internet connectivity, even when the underlying infrastructure is functioning correctly. This “bad peering” phenomenon highlights the need for more intelligent and dynamic routing mechanisms that prioritize user experience and adapt to changing network conditions in real-time.

Regulatory Compliance

Ensuring internet connectivity resilience is not solely dependent on technology; regulatory actions can dramatically impact network operations. A prime example is the recent disruption of connectivity to China following the forced removal of China Telecom America’s network due to national security concerns.

Evolving regulations, such as restrictions on specific network providers or regions, can have significant consequences for global businesses. When a major network operator is forced to cease operations due to compliance mandates, enterprises relying on those networks can experience internet outages or degraded performance.

Political tensions and geopolitical factors can influence regulatory decisions, creating uncertainties for businesses operating across borders. The China internet problem highlights the importance of maintaining a diverse network ecosystem and proactively adapting to regulatory changes to ensure resilient connectivity.

Software Glitches

Manual configuration errors are a common source of software-related internet outages. Network devices, such as routers, switches, and firewalls, often require intricate configurations to function correctly. If these configurations are incorrect or incompatible with other components of the network, it can lead to connectivity issues or complete outages. Manual misconfigurations can occur due to human error, lack of documentation, or failure to follow best practices during setup or maintenance.

Furthermore, software bugs or compatibility issues between different components of the network stack can also cause internet outages. For example, a software bug in a router’s firmware or a compatibility issue between the operating system and a network driver can disrupt internet connectivity.

Network software and firmware updates, while intended to improve performance and security, can inadvertently introduce new bugs or compatibility problems. If these updates are not thoroughly tested before deployment, they may cause connectivity issues or conflicts with existing configurations, leading to internet outages for businesses.

Hardware Glitches

Malfunctioning routers, modems, or cables can lead to internet outages for businesses. Routers are responsible for directing network traffic and establishing connections between devices and the internet. If a router fails or experiences hardware issues, it can result in a complete loss of internet connectivity for all devices connected to that router. Similarly, modems act as gateways between the local network and the internet service provider (ISP). A faulty modem can prevent the entire business network from accessing the internet.

Cabling issues, such as damaged or improperly terminated cables, can also contribute to internet outages. Businesses often rely on a complex network of cables to connect various devices, switches, and routers. If these cables become damaged or loose, it can cause intermittent connectivity issues or complete loss of connectivity in certain areas of the office or between different locations for global enterprises.

Weather-Related Factors

Severe weather conditions like storms, lightning, or heavy rainfall can damage infrastructure and disrupt internet services for businesses, particularly in light of climate change. These weather events can cause internet outages in several ways, including infrastructure damage, flooding, and power outages. 

For global enterprises with distributed locations, weather-related factors can become even more challenging. A single severe weather event in one region can disrupt internet connectivity for offices or data centers in that area, potentially impacting operations and communication across the entire organization.

Furthermore, as climate change continues to exacerbate the frequency and intensity of severe weather events, the risk of weather-related internet outages is likely to increase, posing significant challenges for businesses that rely heavily on internet connectivity for their operations (i.e., pretty much everybody).

Cyberattacks

Cyberattacks, such as Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks and hacking attempts, can severely compromise network security and cause internet service interruptions for businesses. These malicious activities can overwhelm network resources, disrupt communication channels, and potentially lead to data breaches or system failures.

DDoS attacks involve flooding a network or server with an overwhelming amount of traffic from multiple sources, making it difficult or impossible for legitimate users to access the targeted system or service. These attacks can effectively shut down websites, cloud services, and other internet-dependent operations, resulting in significant downtime and financial losses for businesses.

Hacking attempts, such as exploiting software vulnerabilities or obtaining unauthorized access to systems, can also lead to internet outages. Cybercriminals may attempt to infiltrate networks, steal data, or install malware that can disrupt internet connectivity or compromise critical infrastructure.

Cyberattacks can have far-reaching consequences for businesses, not only causing internet outages but also compromising sensitive data, damaging reputations, and incurring substantial recovery costs. Global enterprises with multiple locations or those operating in critical sectors like finance or healthcare may be particularly vulnerable to the impacts of such attacks.

Best Practices for Fixing and Preventing Internet Outages

Automated Software Updates, Alerts, and Maintenance

Implementing automated software updates, network monitoring, and routine maintenance tasks is crucial to preventing outages caused by outdated or poorly maintained systems. Follow these best practices:

  • Configure automatic updates for operating systems, firmware, and applications on all network devices and servers.
  • Schedule regular system reboots or maintenance windows to apply updates and clear temporary files or caches.
  • Utilize configuration management tools to automate software deployment, patch management, and system hardening across the entire network infrastructure.
  • Implement centralized logging and monitoring to track update failures or issues that require manual intervention.
  • Deploy network monitoring tools to continuously track the performance and availability of network devices, links, and applications.
  • Configure alerting mechanisms to notify IT personnel or trigger automated remediation workflows when predefined thresholds or anomalies are detected.
  • Integrate monitoring data from various sources (e.g., network devices, servers, applications) for a holistic view of the entire infrastructure.

 

Network Optimization

Optimizing network settings can help ensure critical applications receive the necessary bandwidth and prioritization, reducing the risk of performance-related outages:

  • Implement Quality of Service (QoS) protocols to prioritize network traffic based on application criticality or user roles.
  • Configure bandwidth throttling or rate limiting for non-essential or recreational traffic during peak usage hours.
  • Leverage load balancing techniques to distribute network traffic across multiple links or servers, preventing bottlenecks.
  • Regularly review and adjust network configurations based on evolving usage patterns and application requirements.

Implementing Security Measures

Enhancing network security is essential to mitigate the risk of outages caused by cyber threats, such as distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks or malware infections:

  • Implement a Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) solution, which combines network security functions like firewall, VPN, and ZTNA with SD-WAN capabilities for secure and optimized access to cloud resources.
  • Deploy intrusion prevention systems (IPS) and web application firewalls (WAF) to detect and block malicious traffic or unauthorized access attempts.
  • Enforce strict access control policies and multi-factor authentication for all administrative interfaces and remote access solutions.
  • Regularly update and patch security software and appliances to address newly discovered vulnerabilities.

Backup Connectivity Options

Implementing redundancy through multiple Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and backup connectivity options can help mitigate the impact of outages caused by a single point of failure:

  • Contract with multiple ISPs for diverse routing and physical connectivity paths to the internet.
  • Implement failover mechanisms, such as software-defined wide area network (SD-WAN) solutions, to automatically reroute traffic over available links in case of an ISP outage.
  • Consider backup connectivity options like 4G/5G cellular or satellite links for critical systems or remote locations.
  • Test and validate failover procedures regularly to ensure seamless transition during outages.

 

By implementing these best practices, businesses can significantly reduce the risk and impact of internet outages, ensuring critical operations and services remain available and minimizing downtime-related losses.

Preventing Internet Outages with Teridion's AI-Powered Network as a Service

Teridion is the only AI-powered Network as a Service that utilizes over 25 public cloud providers and 500+ global points of presence to offer reliable connectivity backed by guaranteed network SLAs. Teridion’s multi-cloud architecture provides resilience against common causes of internet outages by avoiding single points of failure. If one cloud provider falls, traffic automatically fails over to the remaining provider networks. This use of multiple redundant cloud providers creates a highly resilient network fabric.

Teridion’s platform utilizes machine learning to deliver performance-optimized connectivity with real-time route selection based on continuously monitored Internet conditions. This allows Teridion to overcome typical issues like poor peering connections and network congestion by dynamically adjusting routing policies as needed to maintain fast, uninterrupted data flows.

Teridion also mitigates regulatory issues by working with compliant in-country cloud providers. For example, recognizing the significance of regulatory compliance in China, the company has forged strategic alliances with Chinese cloud providers and utilizes licensed local infrastructure. This localized approach ensures adherence to regulations while enabling customers to configure and deploy services swiftly and flexibly. Teridion utilizes its private AI-driven routing infrastructure within China’s cloud edge to integrate with the global public cloud network, thereby enabling the most optimized connections between any two endpoints, whether site-to-cloud or site-to-site.

 

As businesses continue to adapt to the demands of a digital world, prioritizing internet connectivity resilience will be paramount to maintaining a competitive edge and meeting the evolving needs of customers and stakeholders. By staying vigilant and adopting best practices, companies can future-proof their operations and thrive in an increasingly interconnected global landscape.

Teridion’s innovative AI-powered, fully managed Network as a Service provides a reliable and performance-driven connectivity backbone, ensuring seamless global operations and minimizing the impact of internet outages.

Picture of Sharon Duchin
Sharon Duchin

Head of Marketing

Sharon Duchin is the Head of Marketing at Terdion. Prior to joining Teridion she was the CMO of several startups, as well as a Business Unit Manager at Keter Plastic and a Marketing Manager at General Mills USA. Sharon Holds an MBA from Chicago Booth and a B.Sc. in Computer Science and Economics from the Hebrew University.
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