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Why did the banking apps of the major banks crash?

  • June 18 2021
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Why did the banking apps of the major banks crash?

By Fergus Halliday
June 18 2021

After an outage took down mobile banking services for CBA, ANZ and Westpac customers earlier this week, it’s worth taking the time to understand why these kinds of mass disruptions are becoming more common in an increasingly online world.

banking apps of the major banks crash

Why did the banking apps of the major banks crash?

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  • June 18 2021
  • Share

After an outage took down mobile banking services for CBA, ANZ and Westpac customers earlier this week, it’s worth taking the time to understand why these kinds of mass disruptions are becoming more common in an increasingly online world.

banking apps of the major banks crash

Yesterday’s outage comes only a week after issues with content delivery platform Fastly took major media outlets like CNN, The Sydney Morning Herald, The Guardian and The New York Times offline.

Sources told nestegg that the issue was “related to an external provider”, and in the 24 hours since the outage, cloud-based content delivery network provider Akamai has acknowledged responsibility.

Like Fastly, Akamai is a cloud-based content delivery network (CDN) solution that is used by large companies to deliver large volumes of data with low latency.

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What is a CDN?

A content delivery network is an internet infrastructure solution that effectively solves the problem of long load times for users who attempt to access a website or web application at the wrong time or from the wrong place.

CDNs like Akamai opt for a cloud-based setup, where users looking to connect to a specific site or service are seamlessly redirected to a content delivery node that matches their geographical location. If you’re connecting from Singapore, you’ll use a different node to those connecting via Australia.

How much of the internet uses CDNs?

According to Akamai, over half of the internet’s traffic is served by a content delivery network of some kind.

There are a number of practical and business reasons why this is the case. The simplest explanation is that, when deployed correctly, CDNs offer a competitive edge to websites and web-based applications and services via faster load times over those that do not.

How does Akamai fit into the CDN market?

Akamai isn’t the only CDN out there, even if it is one of the major ones. According to Datanyze, they accounted for just 0.57 per cent of the global CDN market in 2020.

Other CDNs include Cloudflare, Fastly, Google Hosted Library and Amazon CloudFront.

What went wrong yesterday?

Multiple sources have attributed yesterday’s outage to issues with Akamai's distributed-denial-of-service (DDoS) mitigation platform.

Called Prolexic, this platform promises to help keep cloud-based infrastructure like that powering the CBA mobile banking app secure and stable by deflecting against DDoS attacks.

DDoS attacks are a form of cyber attack used by hackers and other malicious online actors.

In a statement issued following the outage, Akamai confirmed that it “experienced an outage for one of its Prolexic DDoS services (Routed 3.0) starting at 4.20am UTC. We detected the issue immediately, and impacted customers received an error alert within seconds. The impact was limited to Akamai customers using version 3.0 of the Routed service.”

“The issue was not caused by a system update or a cyber attack. A routing table value used by this particular service was inadvertently exceeded. The effect was an unanticipated disruption of service.”

“We recognise the impact of this issue, and we extend our apologies to our customers and any of their end users who were affected,” the company said. 

Why did the banking apps of the major banks crash?
banking apps of the major banks crash
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About the author

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Fergus is a journalist for Momentum Media's nestegg and Smart Property Investment. He likes to write about money, markets, how innovation is changing the financial landscape and how younger consumers can achieve their goals in unpredictable times. 

About the author

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Fergus Halliday

Fergus is a journalist for Momentum Media's nestegg and Smart Property Investment. He likes to write about money, markets, how innovation is changing the financial landscape and how younger consumers can achieve their goals in unpredictable times. 

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