Internet down: Martin Lewis reminds public to be wary of ‘shyster sites’ after official website outage

Official government websites as well as leading news platforms affected by major issue

Kate Ng
Tuesday 08 June 2021 12:33
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Martin Lewis has taken the opportunity to remind people to be careful of accidentally clicking on “shyster sites” that look like official government websites amid a major internet outage.

Large swathes of the internet went down on Tuesday, including the official UK government website and some major news platforms. Other leading websites such as Amazon, Reddit and Twitch also became unavailable for a period of time.

The Money Saving Expert founder issued a warning on Twitter, telling his followers: “With gov.uk websites being down right now, be v [very] careful if renewing passports, GHICs, applying for marriage tax allowance, driving licence etc.

“Top of search will be ads for shyster sites which look like the real thing yet charge unnecessarily.”

The sprawling outage has been linked to US firm Fastly, a content delivery network (CDN) that helps websites speed up loading times and present their content to users.

The company confirmed it was looking into an issue which had a “potential impact to performance with our CDN services”.

The UK government’s website was among those showing the message “Error 503 Service Unavailable” to anyone trying to access them for a period of an hour on Tuesday morning.

At the time of publishing, some websites appeared to be functioning again although some with limited access.

Lewis, who also founded the Money and Mental Health Policy Institute, has been campaigning for online safety against scammers and routinely urges people to learn how to spot fraudulent sites and protect themselves.

Earlier this year, Lewis joined a coalition of 17 organisations calling on the government to use its new Online Safety Bill to protect people from “an avalanche of online scams”, many of which have arisen during the pandemic.

According to figures from Action Fraud, £1.7bn was lost to scams in the past year. The coalition also called for online platforms to be made legally responsible to protect users against fake and fraudulent content that lead to scams.

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