UPDATED 8.20AM 18/6/2021 (AEST)
Thousands of bank customers across Australia were unable to access their accounts after a mass outage on Thursday.
Three of the nation’s big four banks – Commonwealth Bank, ANZ and Westpac – were affected, along with smaller financial institutions such as St George, Bank of Melbourne, Macquarie Bank and Bank SA.
The outages also hit airline Virgin Australia and Australia Post and a broad swathe of other companies.
“Virgin Australia was one of many organisations to experience an outage with the Akamai content delivery system today,” Virgin said.
“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 or “edge platform”, cybersecurity and cloud service provider.
ANZ acknowledged a similar issue and said “at this stage we do not have an ETA for a fix, please try logging on after an hour”.
Customers reported being unable to use internet banking, mobile banking, as well as some ATMs and cards, from about 2.10pm, according to Down Detector.
Shortly after 3pm (AEST), Commonwealth Bank tweeted that it was aware some customers were “experiencing difficulties accessing our services and we’re urgently investigating”.
“We apologise and thanks for your patience, we’ll provide an update soon,” it said.
Down Detector reported up to 50 disruptions at one point.
They 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.
There were also outages across Tasman, with 1News New Zealand reporting customers were unable to access online banking services.
Some customers were angry at the inconvenience, with one person replying to the bank’s tweet demanding “compensation” after being unable to pay for fuel.
The Reserve Bank also experienced technical issues, with its website displaying an error message, but was soon back online.
The ABC reported that some market operations between the Reserve Bank and commercial banks were cancelled because of the technical problems many of the participants were facing.
However, end-of-day financial settlements between the major banks went ahead as normal.
Some on social media speculated the banks may have been victim to a cyber attack, with ABC reporter Rhett Burnie tweeting: “This suspected cyber attack on Australia’s banks is unfolding as we speak.”
One Twitter user replied to an apology notice from Westpac Bank, writing “at least you’ll be able to afford the hackers’ ransom demand.”
Meanwhile, others suggested the issue may have had something to do with the National Broadband Network.
Edith Cowan University’s associate dean for computing and security, Paul Haskell-Dowland, said Akamai was “a very well-known CDN provider that nobody knows about”.
He told the ABC meaning many other lesser businesses were likely to have been affected by the outage.
“Every man and his dog uses Akamai,” he said.