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Major websites hit by brief outages

The cause appears to be a problem with Akamai, which said the issues were not due to malicious activity.

Many major websites experienced outages Thursday afternoon after a major internet services provider reported a problem with its internal systems.

The websites of a number of companies appeared to be affected, including airlines Southwest and Delta; financial giants Schwab, American Express, Chase, Discover and Fidelity; and home improvement retailers Home Depot and Lowe's.

The cause appeared to have been a problem with Akamai, a widely used internet services company based in Massachusetts. Just after noon, the company posted on its site that it was having trouble with resolving its domain name service, the internet “phone book” that directs URLs to numeric web addresses.

The issue was resolved just after 1 p.m. Eastern, the company said.

The problem at Akamai highlights how fragile consistent internet service can be, where a hiccup at one major company can trickle down to problems for millions of users. Previous internet outages have also been traced back to problems at Akamai and other internet services companies.

An Akami spokesperson said the outages were due to a software update that "triggered a bug in the DNS system, the system that directs browsers to websites" and was not due to malicious activity.

"This caused a disruption impacting availability of some customer websites," the company said. "The disruption lasted up to an hour. Upon rolling back the software configuration update, the services resumed normal operations. Akamai can confirm this was not a cyberattack against Akamai’s platform."