Airlines, banks and governments hit by internet outage

Australia’s central bank among sites that went down briefly on Thursday

Website tracker initially flagged Southwest Airlines as one of the sites affected. Photograph: Kamil Krzacynski/AFP

Website tracker initially flagged Southwest Airlines as one of the sites affected. Photograph: Kamil Krzacynski/AFP


A plethora of websites operated by financial institutions, governments and airlines including Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Ltd and Australia’s central bank went down briefly Thursday in what appeared to be a widespread internet outage.

Website tracker Downdetector. com initially flagged hundreds of user complaints about outages affecting Southwest, Delta Air Lines Inc. and Automatic Data Processing Inc. Other websites pinpointed included those operated by Vanguard, E-Trade, Navy Federal Credit Union.

The Reserve Bank of Australia said on Thursday it was cancelling its operation to buy long-dated government bonds because of the technical difficulties. “Due to technical difficulties, today’s RBA long-dated open market operations auction has been cancelled,” the bank said on its dealing page on Thursday.

Many of the affected websites in Australia, such as those belonging to the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, Westpac Banking Corp and Australia and New Zealand Banking Group, had started to come back online late afternoon on Thursday. CBA said in a tweet it was starting to see services return to normal following a tech outage that had had widespread impact across its businesses. Virgin Australia, the country’s number two airline, said on Twitter it was experiencing a system outage.

The widespread downtime recalled an hour-long global outage earlier this month, triggered by a software failure at content delivery platform Fastly Inc. The resultant cascading failures, which affected services from Amazon. com Inc. to Shopify Inc and Stripe Inc, served as a stark reminder of how exposed the world’s biggest websites are to the impact of disruptions ranging from simple human error to coordinated cyberattack.

It was not immediately clear if the outages in Australia and the United States were linked. An executive at one of the Australian banks told Reuters the issue had been a problem with its host and service provider. The servers had to be re-routed to fix the issue, said the person who was not authorised to speak to media and declined to be identified. Representatives at the Australian banks did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Many of the websites affected on Thursday recovered within the hour. Companies including Hong Kong’s exchange and Southwest said they were investigating the incident, without elaborating. “The pause in connectivity did not impact our operation,” Southwest said in an emailed response to questions. – Bloomberg and Reuters