Friday 18 January 2019

Ulster 'must learn lessons and review its IT' in wake of latest blunder

Brian Honan. Photo: Tony Gavin
Brian Honan. Photo: Tony Gavin
Charlie Weston

Charlie Weston

Ulster Bank has been called on to carry out a comprehensive review of its payments systems after customers were hit by funds disappearing from their accounts.

Experts said there appear to be huge deficiencies in how the bank operates its IT systems, and how it manages them.

This week, large numbers of customers reported that salaries and other recent payments had vanished from their accounts.

The bank has been forced to offer emergency cash payments to affected customers.

It yesterday said the issues that led to the disappearance of money from the accounts of its customers in the past few days had been resolved.

Action to resolve the issue "has been successful, and all transactions have now been posted to customers accounts", it added.

The bank said the problems arose as a result of a mistake by a staff member. In a statement on Tuesday, the bank said: "As a result of human error, a payment file did not process last night, which means that some transactions applied to some customers' accounts since April 20 are temporarily not showing."

However, angry customers have pointed out that the bank has had regular problems with its payments systems.

Brian Honan, chief executive of data protection and fibre security firm BH Consulting, said the bank needed to learn lessons from the latest blunder.

He said Ulster Bank and its parent Royal Bank of Scotland had a history of IT problems and RBS has admitted it has under-invested in its electronic systems. He said if human error was the reason for the latest collapse, this pointed to poor management of its IT operations.

"For human error to cause a problem of this magnitude, it raises questions around the governance when changes and updates are being made to the system," he said.

He said it was standard to have two people to check whenever a change was being made.

Mr Honan said for an IT system to work effectively, good training was needed to ensure that people, processes and the technology worked properly.

"Ulster Bank needs to carry out a complete review to ensure lessons are learned and ensure this does not happen again.

"Equipment will fail, people will make mistakes, but it is important to ensure changes are made so the same error does not occur again," he said.

Irish Independent

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