From an apparent breakdown in relationships between Sony and Starz to downtime on Father’s Day from an apparent Netflix hack, the popular video rental site has been having a bit of a PR problem lately.
Check out a very small sample of some of the Tweets going out over the past 10 hours.
I can’t access @Netflix. I’m not… I’m not sure what I’m supposed to do now? Panic is setting in.
If people understood how things worked at all, they wouldn’t be such jerks when a huge site like #Netflix went down for a couple hrs.
Netflix is not down because of cloud. Cloud is down because of Netflix!
Netflix reportedly down for many http://t.co/gjTwOMr
Netflix is down. Everyone panic.
#netflix is down. expect birth spike in 9 months.
Even as we write this, Netflix appears to be coming back online.
So what happened?
Well, the first scenario is quite outside the hacker/scalability arena.
Netflix can’t be responsible for the issues between Sony and Starz, and did the only thing it really could do: Jump on the situation early:
“You may have noticed that Sony movies through StarzPlay are not currently available to watch instantly . . . This is the result of a temporary contract issue between Sony and Starz and, while these two valued partners work through their differences, we hope you are enjoying the wide variety of new movies and TV shows added daily.”
- Netflix posted on its blog referring to breakdown in streaming of Sony movies.
Good for them for jumping on that mess early.
But what about this seeming downtime site wide from an apparent hacker attack?
First, there is no hard evidence that this is or was caused by a hacker group.
Netflix just said this:
Our engineers are working hard to bring the site and ability to watch instantly back up as soon as possible. We appreciate your patience and, again we apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.
Hopefully, once things get straightened out, Netflix will release more information about what actually happened.
Some are speculating that it’s the hacker group LulzSec, but we don’t think so.
If Lulzsec were responsible, we’d expect to see them claim responsibility. Furthermore, we’d expect the attack to be a breach of security attack in which the group discovered a way into Netflix’s user database. This would prompt Netflix to shut down the entire site, causing outages for everyone – not just some people.
If this is, in fact, an attack it appears to be a DDOS attack in which a group hammers a certain website with billions of requests, overloading the servers’ ability to serve web pages.
That would cause some requests to get through and others to fail.
Still, this could simply be an in-house engineering problem, but that seems equally as implausible.
Netflix was one of the few cloud-based companies to go unscathed through the Amazon Web Services meltdown a few months ago. The company has historically been one of the most technologically sound and reliable sites online.
Now, everyone makes mistakes and this could be the result of one of those mistakes, but Netflix has been an example of reliability and scalability over the years, so it will be interesting to see what the official reason for the problems is.