It seems that security was not to blame when it came to the glitch that hit NatWest yesterday.
According to BBC News, RBS has said that it is does not know the cause of a major glitch, which apparently saw long lines at cashpoints, but it “was working through a detailed analysis”, and called it “completely unacceptable”. It reported that as well as the queues, many of which were not working, customers were unable to pay for shopping in supermarkets and bank account balances were incorrect.
Before security settings are blamed, it is possible that there was an overload of data on “Cyber Monday”. This followed the annual shopping frenzy of “Black Friday” which brought out the usual warnings around safe shopping, but with friends and family now telling me that they have managed to do all of their Christmas shopping “without leaving the house”, these factors have to be a consideration.
It seems that every year these warnings are reissued, but surely if there was no threat it would not be talked about at all? Yes look out for the padlock and green URL on secure sites and be aware of scams, which seems to me to be the main security threat
The cyber criminals, using the key infection method of a watering hole attack, know what people want to buy and set up websites as a lure for those users. It sounds simple, but a bit of search engine poisoning, the promise of reduced Dr Dre headphones, iPhones and Nexus tablets and you have yourself a victim.
It’s not all a scare story though, as Sky News reported that 690 websites that were selling counterfeit goods in Europe and the US were taken down and put in the hands of Europol, of which 90 were in the UK.
Apart from deceiving users and not helping brands or the economy, these websites also serve as money and credential harvesting points and can be a place for watering hole attacks. The internet is better off without them in my view.
For a final point on Cyber Monday, it is advisable to retailers that they have sufficient stock to meet demand. Take this unfortunate apology from Dennis Woodside, CEO of Motorola, who had to explain how it misjudged the overwhelming consumer demand for Moto X, “which was far greater than we expected”.
It claimed that its pre-sale site testing was not sufficiently extensive and it was overwhelmed by user attempts and this revealed weaknesses caused by large volumes of concurrent orders flowing through the MotoMaker customisation engine. He said: “Thus, when we opened the promotion this morning, an extraordinary spike in concurrent orders caused our website to go down. We couldn’t fulfill orders. The site became unstable. While some orders were filled, many customers tried all day to place their orders, unsuccessfully. Customers were left frustrated.
“On behalf of all Motorolans, I apologise for what occurred today. I appreciate your understanding as we get this fixed in time for Wednesday and Monday.”
As I said earlier, none of this new advice and as much as we need to advise users, perhaps businesses need to be better advised so that when major shopping dates arrive, they are prepared not only for major traffic, but also for security measures so it doesn’t become Cyber Crime Monday.