NETS outage due to 'human error'; MAS to closely monitor remediation efforts: Tharman

NETS outage due to 'human error'; MAS to closely monitor remediation efforts: Tharman

NETS' hour-long service downtime was not in breach of regulatory requirements to be back online within four hours of a disruption, Mr Tharman Shanmugaratnam says.

NETS down
A NETS FlashPay terminal and a receipt obtained by Channel NewsAsia showing a declined transaction during a service disruption on Feb 2, 2018.

SINGAPORE: The outage to NETS services on Feb 2 was due to a human error, said Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam on Tuesday (Feb 27).

In a written reply to a parliamentary question by MP Tan Wu Meng, Mr Tharman, who is also minister-in-charge of the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), shed more light on how it occurred. He said that NETS' investigation showed the outage happened because a system administrator "inadvertently executed a command that abruptly terminated a communications module, which is required for connectivity to the banks". This was done while preparing for a planned system change activity, he added.

Payments service provider NETS has been instructed to appoint an independent consultant to determine how controls can be enhanced so service disruptions can be minimised, Mr Tharman highlighted. The consultant will also advise on how NETS can mitigate the consequences if an error does occur. 

In the meantime, the service provider has scheduled all system administrator access to off-peak hours and tightened access controls, he added.

MAS regulations state that designated payment systems (DPS) like NETS' Electronic Funds Transfer at Point of Sale (EFTPOS) are to resume operations within four hours following any disruption, and in this case, it did, Mr Tharman pointed out. 

"NETS was prompt in notifying the public about the outage, providing updates, and most EFTPOS’ services were recovered in about one-and-a-half hours," he said. "NETS' EFTPOS has not experienced a similar outage since being designated as a DPS in 2010."

DPS operators are restricted to a maximum downtime of no more than four hours across a period of 12 months, the minister highlighted.

He added that MAS will closely monitor NETS' remediation of the identified gaps and issue supervisory directives to the service provider as needed. 

Source: CNA/kk