Typo Brings Down the Internet In Sweden

By Boonsri Dickinson | October 20, 2009 3:59 pm

internetOops. It appears that a computer coding error introduced during routine maintenance brought down Sweden’s entire Internet. For an hour and a half last Monday night, Sweden’s top level domain, .se, experienced a blackout —meaning that access to any Web site or email ending in .se was crippled. Nearly a million domains were affected.

Computerworld reports:

“The .SE registry used an incorrectly configured script to update the .se zone, which introduced an error to every single .se domain name,” [Web monitoring company] Pingdom says. “We have spoken to a number of industry insiders and what happened is that when updating the data, the script did not add a terminating ‘.’ to the DNS records in the .se zone. That trailing dot is necessary in the settings for DNS to understand that ‘.se” is the top-level domain.”

If you’re getting worried, relax: The likelihood of such an error taking down all 80 million .com sites in its entirety is very very small, according to Pingdom—usually such an error affects only individual sites. Of course, a recent bill did grant the president permission to shut down the Internet here in the States if need be.

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Image: flickr/ Leia

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Technology Attacks!
MORE ABOUT: domain, internet, sweden
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  • Brian Too

    I’m conflicted about this one. Taking down the internet for an entire country is pretty bad. It seems this was an authorized person doing authorized activity, so this tends to bring the service & maintenance regime under a cloud of doubt. Sweden is a smallish country but it’s an advanced society and so you can’t use the excuse of lack of resources or knowledge (it might be true, but then it sounds inadequate because it is inadequate).

    On the other hand it WAS fixed, and the gTLD system confined the damage to a single country. As an insider accident we don’t have to worry (this time) about attacks on the DNS system, which are a concern more generally.

    In my experience the most damaging incidents are when a problem happens and the responsible authority is so hamstrung no corrective action is taken.

    I suspect Sweden will be doing a little more DNS script validation in the future!

  • Rob

    So who’s responsible? Is there a government office in Sweden that made the mistake or was it an internet organization?


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