NatWest blames cyber attack for payday website outage

Customers took to Twitter on Friday morning to signal their frustration at being unable to access their bank accounts to make payments and check balances on payday.

NatWest, which has been plagued by IT issues in recent years, said that the outage lasted 50 minutes and had been resolved.

Later in the day it blamed a cyber attack for the problems, according to The Telegraph. “The issues that some customers experienced accessing online banking this morning was due to a surge in internet traffic deliberately directed at the website,” said a spokesman.

“This deliberate surge of traffic is commonly known as a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack. At no time was there any risk to customers. Customers experienced issues for around 50 minutes and this has now been resolved. We apologise for the inconvenience caused.”

“We are aware that some customers experienced issues with online banking this morning. This has now been resolved and our service is operating as normal. We apologise to those customers who experienced difficulties,” said a NatWest spokesperson.

The bank said the outage also affected customers at its sister banks RBS and Ulster Bank. It added that its mobile banking apps were unaffected, despite reports to the contrary.

The blip in service is the latest in a string of IT troubles to dog the bank, which is part of Royal Bank of Scotland Group.

In 2014 RBS was fined £56m by regulators for software problems that prevented NatWest, RBS and Ulster Bank customers from accessing their accounts in 2012. It was then hit by another outage the day after receiving the fine.

The site crash in 2012 was blamed on a botched software upgrade and affected up to 6.5 million customers, who were unable to make payments for up to three weeks. RBS subsequently paid out around £70m in compensation and has spent more than £750m improving its IT infrastructure. An internal report found that it had crucially failed to invest in a “mirror bank” that could continue making transactions if the main system collapsed.

However the bank’s systems broke down again in June, when about 600,000 transactions were affected by IT problems.

Ross McEwan, Royal Bank of Scotland’s chief executive, told investors and analysts last month he wanted his company to become the number one bank in the UK for “customer service, trust and advocacy” by 2020.