Two-day outage at British bank not cyberattack

Britain’s biggest bank, HSBC, said on Tuesday that hackers aren’t responsible for a mobile and online banking outage that has now lasted two days.

Although the bank has not given an official reason for the technology failures, John Hackett, HSBC's UK Chief Operating Officer, told Reuters that a cyberattack is not to blame.

The technical problems first occurred on Monday and have continued into Tuesday afternoon, according to Down Detector, which tracks Internet sites and mobile apps in real time.

"We are currently experiencing issues with our online and mobile banking,” an HSBC representative said. “Personal mobile banking is working, but due to high demand, customers may experience delays."

Because banks are prime targets for cyber criminals and activist hackers, there is always rampant speculation when online financial services stop working.

Researchers in May uncovered Russian cyber-gang plots to hit top banks around the world, including Bank of America and TD Bank in the U.S.

In July, the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) went down for nearly four hours, suspending trading and putting many on edge. The exchange later blamed a software update gone awry for the outage.

Regardless of whether hackers are responsible for the technical issues at HSBC, security experts say the ongoing glitches still reveal a fragile digital infrastructure that is vulnerable to digital attacks.

“Imagine you had a whole city that was built with lead pipes and asbestos and sewage lines that are leaking,” said Jeff Williams, chief technology officer at Contrast Security, which tests for vulnerabilities in financial sector networks, after the NYSE went down last summer. “It’s that level of infrastructure problem.”