December 14th 2020 - Google Outage and Fragility of Modern Civilisation

in LeoFinancelast year

Google HQ in Silicon Valley (source: Wikimedia Commons)

2020 is the year of unpleasant surprises and even its final month is not an exception to the role. Today hundreds of millions of people all over the world experienced the outage of Youtube video service, which was followed by failure of all Google services, which included Gmail, Google Maps, Google Docs, Google Meet and many others. The outage caused major disruption, but it was mercifully brief, lasting only for an hour, which would probably save hundreds of millions of people from more serious and long lasting aftermath of this outage.

The incident, which comes only a day after news about major hacking of US Treasury, is nevertheless a good reminder about fragility of modern civilisation. If the outage lasted for couple more hours, people would have been unable to purchase food or medicine with their Google Pay, maintain crucial communication with their Gmail accounts, access important mobile applications in Google Pay store or not get lost in dangerous and inhospitable places where Google Maps provides only orientation. Outages like this are especially dangerous in the world struck by COVID-19, economic woes, political instability and social turmoil, and can have cascading effect not only on people's lives but also on social infrastructure.

The only remedy against outages like those lies in decentralisation. If you don't want to be struck by failure of one centralised company, you should try to develop backups and alternatives. So, instead of Google search use Duckduckgo; instead of Gmail use Protonmail etc. This is a lesson well learned by those more experienced in cryptosphere where it is unwise to keep all the eggs in the same basket.

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