Crypto News

Incident Post Mortem: November 23, 2021


Between 4:00 pm and roughly 5:36 pm PT on Tuesday, November twenty third, we skilled an outage throughout most Coinbase manufacturing techniques. During this outage, customers have been unable to entry Coinbase utilizing our web sites and apps, and due to this fact have been unable to make use of our merchandise. This put up is meant to explain what occurred and the causes, and to debate how we plan to keep away from such issues within the future.

The Incident

On November twenty third, 2021, at 4:00pm PT (Nov 24, 2021 00:00 UTC) an SSL certificates for an inside hostname in considered one of our Amazon Web Services (AWS) accounts expired. The expired SSL certificates was utilized by a lot of our inside load balancers which induced a majority of inter-service communications to fail. Due to the truth that our API routing layer connects to backend providers through subdomains of this inside hostname, about 90% of incoming API visitors returned errors.

Error charges returned to regular as soon as we have been capable of migrate all load balancers to a legitimate certificates.

Chart depicting total 90% error fee at our API routing layer for period of incident.

Context: Certificates at Coinbase

It’s useful to supply some background details about how we handle SSL certificates at Coinbase. For essentially the most half, certificates for public hostnames like are managed and provisioned by Cloudflare. For certificates for inside hostnames used to route visitors between backend providers, we traditionally leveraged AWS IAM Server Certificates.

One of the downsides of IAM Server Certificates is that certificates have to be generated outdoors of AWS and uploaded through an API name. So final 12 months, our infrastructure workforce migrated from IAM Server Certificates to AWS Certificate Manager (ACM). ACM solves the safety downside as a result of AWS generates each the private and non-private elements of the certificates inside ACM and shops the encrypted model in IAM for us. Only related providers like Cloudfront and Elastic Load Balancers will get entry to the certificates. Denying the acm:ExportCertificate permission to all AWS IAM Roles ensures that they will’t be exported.

In addition to the added safety advantages, ACM additionally routinely renews certificates earlier than expiration. Given that ACM certificates are presupposed to renew and we did a migration, how did this occur?

Root Cause Analysis

Incident responders rapidly seen that the expired certificates was an IAM Server Certificate. This was surprising as a result of the aforementioned ACM migration had been extensively publicized in engineering communication channels on the time; thus we had been working below the idea that we have been operating solely on ACM certificates.

As we later found, one of many certificates migrations didn’t go as deliberate; the group of engineers engaged on the migration uploaded a brand new IAM certificates and postponed the remainder of the migration. Unfortunately, the delay was not as extensively communicated because it ought to have been and modifications to workforce construction and personnel resulted within the venture being incorrectly assumed full.

Migration standing apart, you might ask the identical query we requested ourselves: “Why weren’t we alerted to this expiring certificate?” The reply is: we have been. Alerts have been being despatched to an e-mail distribution group that we found solely consisted of two people. This group was initially bigger, however shrank with the departure of workforce members and was by no means sufficiently repopulated as new of us joined the workforce.

In brief, the essential certificates was allowed to run out due all of three elements:

  1. The IAM to ACM migration was incomplete.
  2. Expiration alerts have been solely being despatched through e-mail and have been filtered or ignored.
  3. Only two people have been on the e-mail distribution listing.

Resolution & Improvements

In order to resolve the incident we migrated all the load balancers that have been utilizing the expired IAM cert to the prevailing auto-renewing ACM cert that had been provisioned as a part of the unique migration plan. This took longer than desired as a result of variety of load balancers concerned and our cautiousness in defining, testing, and making use of the required infrastructure modifications.

In order to make sure we don’t run into a difficulty like this once more, we’ve taken the next steps to deal with the elements talked about within the RCA part above:

  1. We’ve accomplished the migration to ACM, are not utilizing IAM Server Certificates and are deleting any legacy certificates to scale back noise.
  2. We’re including automated monitoring that’s related to our alerting and paging system to reinforce the e-mail alerts. These will web page on impending expiration in addition to when ACM certificates drop out of auto-renewal eligibility.
  3. We’ve added a everlasting group-alias to the e-mail distribution listing. Furthermore, this group is routinely up to date as staff be a part of and go away the firm.
  4. We’re constructing a repository of incident remediation operations in an effort to cut back time to outline, check and apply new modifications.

We take the uptime and efficiency of our infrastructure very critically, and we’re working exhausting to assist the thousands and thousands of consumers that select Coinbase to handle their cryptocurrency. If you’re considering fixing challenges like these listed right here, come work with us.

Incident Post Mortem: November 23, 2021 was initially revealed in The Coinbase Blog on Medium, the place individuals are persevering with the dialog by highlighting and responding to this story.

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