Amazon Outage Lasted 15 Minutes, Cost Millions

An Amazon outage on Monday afternoon that swept the United States and Canada only lasted for around 15 minutes. However, business reporters are now saying that the cost of the disruption could be anywhere between $2.5 million to a cool $5 million.

Anyway you look at it, that’s a high price to pay for having your site crash.

The Christian Science Monitor said that they asked Amazon several times to explain what caused the outage. The world’s largest online retailer refused to answer.

Amazon can supposedly ramp up their server capacity to prevent outages. But something went wrong — and either Amazon doesn’t know or isn’t yet saying what it was.

Since they’re not answering a lot of questions, business analysts were forced to fall back on speculation.

There have been several apparent cyberattacks recently, including last week’s suspected attack on the New York Times newspaper. Depending on who you believe, NYT was down for somewhere between one to two hours.

And the outage was rumored to have been caused by anything from a stupid systems patch to an out-and-out attack by the Syrian Electronic Army.

CNN and the Washington Post have also reportedly been among the Syrian Electronic Army’s cyberattack victims.

And the rumors have been flying for months that banks and other financial interests have been targeted by repeated cyberattacks from the Middle East. Additional or competing rumors have suggested that Chinese hackers are behind some of the attacks.

CSM estimated that Amazon performs over $163,000 transactions a minute. Therefore, they place the cost of the Amazon outage at roughly $2.5 million.

But Puget Sound Business Journal’s TechFlash said that they believe the site was actually down around 40 minutes. Saying the company usually enjoys over $9,800 in sales every five seconds, their reporter put the cost of the Amazon outage at an estimated $4.7 million.

[Amazon screen shot by Annette Shaff /]