SINGAPORE: The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) has directed two major banks, DBS and Citibank, to investigate the service outages that left customers in the lurch last Saturday. In a press statement released on Friday (20 Oct), MAS emphasized the need for these financial institutions to establish robust backup data centres and systems, along with regular testing procedures, to ensure services can be restored promptly in the event of an interruption.

The central bank noted that while DBS and Citibank had activated their backup data centres upon discovering issues with their primary data centres, they failed to restore their systems within the prescribed timeframe of four hours. This non-compliance with recovery timelines has led MAS to warn of disciplinary action based on the findings of these investigations.

DBS responded to MAS’s statement by explaining the delay in their recovery process. The bank claimed to have a robust recovery plan, including data centres across the island. However, the entire recovery process was hindered due to a sudden overheating of the data centre equipment, resulting in a system collapse.

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On the other hand, Citibank acknowledged the incident and pledged to learn from it, vowing to make necessary improvements.

Analysts have weighed in on the situation, highlighting that while data centre providers usually have stringent recovery plans, there remains a small but significant 0.01% risk of system failure that should not be ignored.

Furthermore, experts stress the importance of strict business continuity systems for data centre users. These systems allow for the swift relocation of key business operations and critical data and systems to recovery centres during data centre paralysis, ensuring the continuity of essential business functions.

The service disruptions last Saturday affected both DBS and Citibank customers, with DBS customers bearing the brunt of the outage. Digital services and electronic payment applications were rendered inaccessible, and customers found themselves unable to withdraw money from ATMs.

The situation was particularly dire for some DBS customers stranded overseas, unable to use their cards or access funds. All services were gradually restored the following morning.