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Reason For Second Commonwealth Bank Crash, Identified

I recently switched from Westpac to the Commonwealth Bank after 30 years, only to be side swiped by two major tech crashes, now it’s been revealed that the first was because of an overseas operator and the other contributed to human error during routine maintenance in Australia.

The Commonwealth has a significantly superior digital banking system than Westpac, but two big crashes for several hours was a major problem for Australia’s largest bank and retailers across Australia.

Now the bank has fessed up revealing for the first time because the bank crashed last week.

The first outage which affected all of the main banks operating in Australia, happened on June 17 when Akamai’s Prolexic service, which is a platform used by organisations to protect against distributed denial of service attacks, went down.

As for the second crash the bank’s executive general manager of payments services, Simon Birch has acknowledged that during essential maintenance on a system attached to its huge core banking system an IT worker who executed an upgrade wrongly which meant that different channels such as its app, online banking and payment terminals could not communicate with the account information held by the bank.

Talking to the Australian Financial Review, Mr Birch said this was simply a case of human error in the performing of a multi-stage maintenance procedure, in which one of the steps was executed incorrectly, taking out the communication layer to the core banking database.

“For context, we make thousands of changes in any given month across our estate, and they are executed without any issue,” he said.

Although the outages are clearly an embarrassment for a bank that has long prided itself on its tech prowess, Mr Birch said its systems were still incredibly sophisticated compared with others in the sector.

Mr Birch said the June 23 outage appeared in the form of considerable slowness and intermittent logins across its channels and internet-facing services. This was caused by a “failed change” to a component in its systems that authenticates users and then directs them to the different banking channels.

The problem caused a situation whereby too much traffic was sent through the component and the service was overloaded.

The bank has confirmed that no cyber-attacks were involved and claim that each outage was unrelated to the others.

“Obviously, it has been extraordinarily difficult both for us and particularly for our customers, who rely on the availability of our services on digital channels and point of sale to get paid and to pay for things,” Mr Birch told The Australian Financial Review.

 

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