OCBC identifies cause of network outage

Faulty network device, acting in combination with system's parameter setting, triggered suspension of Singapore bank's network communications that caused last Tuesday's three-hour service disruption, CEO reveals.

SINGAPORE--Last Tuesday's service outage which affected OCBC Bank's ATM (automated teller machine) network, branches, Internet and mobile banking channels across the island was caused by a "network device that did not function well".

OCBC CEO David Conner said that since the services were restored, his team had worked to identify the source of the outage. After reviewing several possible causes, they pinpointed the cause to a faulty network device that acted in combination with a parameter setting in the main banking system, triggering a suspension of the system's network communications which, in turn, caused the disruption.

The technical problem brought down OCBC's banking channels for over three hours before services were progressively restored. 

"Our team took the time to identify the fault, simulate it and repeat the simulation to confirm that they had indeed identified the exact cause of the technical problem," Conner said in a press statement Tuesday. "This deliberate process was followed so as to ensure that we rectified the problem correctly and, in so doing, prevent any future recurrence."

The bank then tested its main system thoroughly to ensure it was working well before returning technological operations back to the main system from its backup, he added.

Connor also took the opportunity to issue an apology: "The service outage did not meet our commitment of having our channels operating for our customers at all times. This is unacceptable. Again, I apologize to all our customers for any inconvenience that this incident caused them."

When contacted, OCBC declined to provide additional comments regarding the incident including the manufacturer of the network device, saying that the issue was "too technical" to be explained currently. It did state that it might be open to future discussions to shed more light on the outage.

OCBC was not the only local bank to have suffered service disruptions in recent times. Last July, DBS Bank customers had to endure a seven-hour outage which the bank subsequently said was due to IBM's failure to correctly fix an identified instability within the bank's storage system.