Westpac woes continue with second outage

Comes hot on heels of major systems failure which began at the weekend

Just a day after resolving a major outage to its online and mobile banking services, Westpac Bank has suffered from another systems failure, this time affecting EFTPOS, ATMs and card transactions. 

The latest incident, which occurred last night and according to the bank was corrected within a few hours, is currently being investigated.

“Overnight we experienced issues with EFTPOS and ATM balances and transfers, card transactions and online banking balances. The issue has been resolved, and all systems are working normally. We apologise for any inconvenience caused and thank our customers for their patience,” a spokesperson for the bank told Computerworld this morning.

The bank said Wednesday night’s outage was unrelated to the one which ran from Sunday morning until Tuesday night and left many customers unable to view their account details online or via the bank’s mobile app.

At least “limited number” of Westpac customers were still without access on Tuesday as a result of the weekend outage, which is understood to have been caused when a batch process failed.

As recently as this morning the bank told customers on Facebook that there continued to be “intermittent issues, including out dated balances” coming as a result of the more recent incident.

The issue was not “affecting money coming into our customers' accounts,” the bank told a disgruntled customer. “Also, we can confirm that our accounts are secure,” the bank added.

Earlier this month Westpac Live Online and mobile banking services suffered from “intermittent issues”.  A major IT systems glitch in February affected online banking and branch systems for more than 24 hours – blamed on a range of “technical issues”.

In November last year, Westpac suffered a week-long systems failure, which impacted online and mobile banking platforms, leaving it unable to process payments or provide balance statements.

Of the most recent outage, a Westpac spokesperson said: “We apologise for any inconvenience caused and thank our customers for their patience.”

Unfortunate 'double-whammy'

In an unhappy coincidence, the bank is also in the midst of a phishing email campaign. The latest fraud attempt – which according to cyber security firm MailGuard has come in thousands of iterations over the last 48 hours – tells recipients their bank card and online account have been temporarily blocked. They can regain access by clicking a link, it says.

The link takes victims to a replica of the real Westpac online banking website – designed to steal account log-in details – which is hosted on the compromised site of a Napa Valley wine tour operator.

The scam is unrelated to the outage and Westpac emphasised that there is “no correlation” between them.

MailGuard CEO Craig McDonald told Computerworld that despite this, Westpac’s woes could leave customers more susceptible to clicking on malicious links.

“Phishing emails like this are absolutely more likely to succeed in times of confusion, such as during the current Westpac outage. While the timing of this scam is probably coincidental – trusted brands such as Westpac are regularly impersonated for financial gain by cybercriminals – it’s an unfortunate double-whammy for customers,” he said.

“If people are watching their inbox closely for news on the outage, they’re very susceptible to a fraud email apparently explaining that their account has been temporarily blocked. I urge people to be highly cautious, especially when an email tells you to click a link to rectify an issue. This should immediately set alarm bells ringing. By hovering a mouse over a suspicious link you’ll see where it’s really sending you.”

The latest phishing attempt follows a similar one earlier this month. Westpac issue regular advice and updates about current scams.

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