Last weekend the 3 network suffered an outage and their 1.5 million customers had problems sending texts, making phone calls and accessing data. Whilst this was happening an outage on a more global scale occurred at Google. Outages like the one at 3 are fairly common worldwide but the one that happened to Google was not which is fairly worrying. The outage at Google caused problems for users of Gmail.

Gmail users were not able to send emails or access setup features on Gmail or Google Apps. They were also were shown error messages when they attempted to add their E-mails or a new account to an E-mail client like Windows Live Mail or Microsoft Outlook. The problems occurred because Google made a mistake of monumental proportions when they neglected to renew a security certificate (SSL) for Gmail and its app services. The security certificate allows Gmail and Google Apps to establish a secure connection to a destination, so messages and emails can be sent more securely ensuring they are not  intercepted or spied on.

Gmail outage

Google’s own in-house security service, Authority G2 is responsible for renewing security certificates as well as handling other secure software systems. Google issued a statement on pages it uses to inform users about its application and email services. They said that they were “aware of a problem with Gmail affecting a majority of users” and apologised to all their customers “for the inconvenience and thank you for your patience and continued support.”

Security certificates are one of the backbones of the internet and Microsoft state, certificates are used primarily to verify the identity of a person or device, authenticate a service, or encrypt files. When security certificates are not renewed problems such as the ones that faced Google users can occur and if the certificates are cloned data can be stolen. Let’s hope Google have learnt an important lesson.

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