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Botched Software Update Causes Massive Office 365 and Teams Outage

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Microsoft Rolls Back Software After Update Causes Massive Login Issues

Many cloud-based applications from Microsoft including Microsoft Teams, Office 365, Exchange, OneDrive, and Outlook experienced significant outages in the late afternoon of September 28th. Users, many of whom rely on the cloud applications as they are working from home due to the Coronavirus pandemic, have taken to Twitter to complain and seek answers.

The issue first started to appear at around 5 pm ET, with services returning to normal for most users by 10pm. Although users who are already signed in to an existing Office 365 session before the outage were able to use the online services as normal; many people who have yet to sign in were instead greeted with a “transient error” message and are unable to sign in to any of Microsoft’s suite of cloud applications.

What Exactly Happened?

Indicative of the times that we live in, whenever a tech giant faces an outage of the scale experienced yesterday, people’s minds naturally gravitate to the cause being a malicious cyber-attack.

However, there does not appear to be any evidence that yesterday’s outage was due to a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack by a malicious actor. Instead, Microsoft has revealed in a Tweet that the disruption in service might have been from a “code issue” brought upon a recent software update.

Simply put, a login component that is relied upon by Microsoft’s cloud applications to authenticate users when they log in has failed and took longer than usual to process login requests. This would explain why users who were already logged in did not face any disruption in service whereas people who are trying to login were unable to do so.

In an effort to mitigate the effects of the botched software update, Microsoft has rolled back its affected services to its last previously known working state.

There have been historical examples where software updates end up breaking rather than fixing the software they serve. However, this does not mean that one can take a “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” approach when it comes to their IT infrastructure and software. These updates are vital for the security and usability of these applications. Additionally, cyber attacks and hacking attempts rely on outdated and less secure software as attack vectors. With more people now working from home because of the pandemic, cyber criminals are looking to exploit the gap between a businesses’ central server and the multiple remote workstations.

As of this time of writing, the issue appears to be mostly resolved with a few users from North America and the Asia Pacific continuing to experience sporadic login issues. Some who were previously unable to their Microsoft cloud accounts are now able to login and use their cloud applications and access their data as usual. Microsoft reiterates that this ongoing issue is limited to people not being unable to login and that user data never came close to being lost or compromised.

Are Cloud Applications Still the Way to Go in This Age of Telecommuting and Work Form Home?

The answer is still indubitably yes. Dramatic system wide outages, such as the one experienced yesterday, although grab national headlines are quite rare and few and far in between. The fact remains that user data that is stored on the cloud is still secure and is unlikely to become truly lost. Users who rely on local storage are far more susceptible to data loss compared to users of Office 365 and other similar services. Data that is stored on any of Microsoft’s cloud applications are hosted on multiple data centers. This level of redundancy means that if one server were to fail, data is not lost because multiple backups of it exists elsewhere.

A Teaching Moment for All

Business owners who rely on a premises-only solution for their data storage are strongly encouraged to look into services such as Office 365 for Business for their workforce. This recent connectivity issue should not deter anyone from making the much-needed upgrade. The ease of use combined with enhanced security make Office 365 an obvious choice for today’s ever-changing business environment. In the midst of the pandemic, workforces everywhere have transitioned to work-from-home setups and started to heavily rely on tools such as Office 365 to keep their business operations going.

Many small and medium sized businesses and enterprises are relying on Office 365 and Microsoft’s suite of business software. To see how your organization can benefit from Office 365, call (972) 528-6546 or CLICK HERE to set up a free, no-obligation consultation.