Has Natwest Been Hacked?
Natwest customers have been forced into looking for an alternative sources of funding, sometimes just to get home from work. Some being forced into getting payday loans because Natwest's banking system crashed on Thursday. Natwest haven't said what caused the crash, which is very suspicious and leading some to ask if Natwest has suffered a hacking breach?
Through what appears to be a simple banking system glitch, the whole network came to a grinding halt. People were thrown back 50 years in that they couldn't get hold of cash at the drop of a hat.
High interest lenders were inundated with applications for loans yesterday, the average amount being asked for was just £100. This would indicate that a huge amount of the 12.1 million customers affected were completely without funds.
One customer who applied to Quick Loans says, "I was at work until about 17:00, then one of my colleagues came in and asked to borrow some money to get home" when we asked why "I have been to the cash point and the network is down, so no money" he said. At which point I started to laugh at this situation, then someone asked him which bank he was with and he said Natwest. At which point I started to panic as that was the bank I am with. So I searched on the internet for what was happening to the banking system and sure enough, the whole thing was down.
"I needed money for shopping on the way home, so I applied for a loan online and got the money paid into a bank account i have with Barclays. Not ideal but at least I managed to get money somehow."
Natwest say they will compensate customers who have lost money due to the glitch but just how far this will go is anyone's guess. Will they pay the fees on loans people needed to apply for due to the failure. Will they pay for failed direct debits because people couldn't pay their bills on time.
The whole thing is very interesting to watch, with rumours circulating that Natwest has in fact suffered a sophisticated hacking attempt and that the hackers were at one point inside the system. There is no evidence that this is the case, but it goes to show just how far people are speculating on just what the problem is.
Natwest have announced that the system won't be restored until Monday the 25th of June at the earliest which does indeed point to a huge failure, and leaves hacking or more a security breach as a very very real possibility.
We spoken to a friend of a friend who works in IT security for another of the major banks in the UK. There are reports that there is a security briefing doing the rounds from HM Treasury in the form of a security briefing and key indicators that all banks have to look for certain patterns. There is no more information than that, he said that even they were not privy to such details.
When asked if they were sure it was a hacking or not, he said quite simple "These banks do not do major upgrades in one go, they do upgrades to certain accounts and watch the results. Only then do they continue the upgrade in batches until it has rolled out across the board. If they fond a problem they simple roll back the changes to the previous software version. So there is no explanation other than it being hacked, because if it was just software they would just roll back the changes."
What ever has happened here is certainly worrying some people, worrying them enough to keep the whole thing super secret.
Update Number 2 (26/06/12 01:30): A close source is telling us that rather than a external hacking breach. It looks like the security alert was from internal breaches in their Indian IT centre. At first glance appearing to be rogue staff (2 or more) that infilitrated the IT department over a period of time, surely it can't be that simple? The delay in restarting the systems was to check for malware still in the system. They could not roll the updated software back because it was mysteriously deleted.
When will they come clean?