(AUSTRALIA) JUST IN: Online services are being restored following a widespread outage that affected ANZ, Westpac and the Commonwealth Bank, as well as other businesses such as Virgin Australia and Australia Post on Thursday afternoon #AceNewsDesk report

(AUSTRALIA) JUST IN: Online services are being restored following a widespread outage that affected ANZ, Westpac and the Commonwealth Bank, as well as other businesses such as Virgin Australia and Australia Post on Thursday afternoon #AceNewsDesk report

#AceNewsReport – June.18: On Thursday afternoon, customers took to social media to report troubles accessing bank services online or through banking apps.

Commonwealth Bank, ANZ, Westpac, RBA and others hit by internet outage, finger pointed at network provider Akamai Why your favourite websites went downTo understand what happened, you need to know what a CDN is, and how crucial they are to the smooth running of the internet.

The Westpac, CommBank, ANZ and Virgin Australia app icons.
The outage affected multiple banks and other major businesses.(ABC News)

NAB was the only one of the big four banks not to experience any disruption, along with many of the smaller banks and credit unions.

However, the problems went far deeper, with staff at some of the major banks unable to access the internet and the Reserve Bank’s website and other systems also down for a period of time.

“We have implemented appropriate mitigations and the website is now back up and running,” the RBA said.

However, the ABC understands some market operations between the Reserve Bank and commercial banks were cancelled today because of the technical problems many of the participants were facing.

Although it is understood that end of day financial settlements between the major banks were carried out as usual.

The disruptions appeared to extend beyond Australia, with the Hong Kong Stock Exchange’s website briefly down along with reports of dozens of other website outages, including for some US airlines.

Corporate chaos

Companies took to social media to inform their customers of the problemeven as they themselves were scrambling to figure out what had gone wrong.

“We’re aware some of you are experiencing difficulties accessing our services and we’re urgently investigating,” CBA wrote on Twitter.

Virgin Australia tweeted that it was experiencing a system outage that was impacting its website and contact centre.

Australia Post was also affected, describing the issue as an “external outage” affecting a number of its services.

By 4:00pm AEST, services were starting to be restored, with some bank customers able to log in to their apps.

Shortly after 5:00pm, Virgin confirmed it was back up and running.

“Virgin Australia is pleased to confirm that an IT outage has been resolved and our website and guest contact centres are operating as usual,” the airline said in a statement.

“Flights are largely operating as scheduled and we apologise to any guest who has been inconvenienced.”

Akamai blamed for outage

The source of the problem was an outage with service provider Akamai.

Virgin Australia confirmed it “was one of many organisations to experience an outage with the Akamai content delivery system today and we are working with them to ensure that necessary measures are taken to prevent these outages from reoccurring.”

Akamai, is a US-based global content delivery network (CDN) or “edge platform”, cybersecurity and cloud service provider.

The company promotes itself as “the world’s largest and most sophisticated edge platform” to protect businesses and users from online threats while delivering content quickly.

The ABC has approached multiple Akamai representatives for comment.

An outage at a different CDN, Fastly, was behind the recent shutdown of major global news and media sites, including the BBC, Financial Times and Reddit.

‘Every man and his dog uses Akamai’

Edith Cowan University’s associate dean for computing and security, Paul Haskell-Dowland, said Akamai was one of the biggest and oldest CDN providers.

“Akamai is a very well known CDN provider that nobody knows about,” he quipped.

“Akamai has been around a bit longer than Fastly.”

He said its services were ubiquitous, meaning that many other less well-known businesses were likely to have been affected by today’s outage.

“Every man and his dog uses Akamai,” he told ABC News.

Paul Haskell-Dowland said the most likely cause of the outage would be a software or configuration problem at Akamai, which does not happen very often.

“We really don’t hear of that many major outages, so they’ve been pretty reliable,” he said of CDNs.

However, he also noted that the recent well-publicised Fastly outage along with today’s problems may draw the attention of hackers and other malicious actors.

“Perhaps it’s a bit more on the radar of some of our adversaries,” he said, noting that it can be extremely difficult for a user to switch quickly to another delivery platform if there is an outage at its CDN provider.

#AceNewsDesk report …………Published: Jun.17: 2021:

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