JOHANNESBURG – Standard Bank could be losing as much as R605 000 an hour as a result of the ‘denial of service’ that its internet banking customers have been subjected to, possibly for more than 12 hours, due to its website and app being down.

@how_to_trade_sa was first to tweet about problems with Standard Bank’s local internet banking site as early as Saturday, noting on Sunday that while was working, could not be accessed. Based on a conversation between the Tweeter and @StandardBankZA, it appeared that it may have been a browser issue, but come Monday morning, many more customers were complaining about difficulty accessing the website.

Standard Bank confirmed around 09h00 on Monday that it was working on resolving its system issues, apologising for the disruption. Two hours later, the problem had not yet been resolved.

High cost of cybercrime

According to Peter Armstrong, head of cyber strategy for Willis Group Holdings, the average cost of ‘denial of service’ interruptions is $48 000 (R605 000) an hour. The average system downtime is six to 24 hours, said Armstrong at the recent Insurance Conference for the short-term industry.

This is assuming that the Standard Bank website is down because of a distributed denial of service attack (DDoS). A DDoS is “a malicious attempt to make a server or a network resource unavailable to users, usually by temporarily interrupting or suspending the services of a host connected to the Internet”, according to cloud-based application delivery platform, Incapsula. Incapsula estimates that DDoS costs an average $40 000 an hour.

A 2013 Cost of Data Center Downtime Study by the Ponemon Instiute, found that the average cost per minute of data centre downtime was $7 908. The study recorded that data centres at the time were losing on average $690 204 per outage, an increase from $184 702 in 2010.

Armstrong said that denial of service attacks were “electronic white noise”: “camouflage that allows the really serious attack to take place behind it”.

Noting that cyber criminals use virus systems that offer 24-hour maintenance support, just like the operating software on many computers, Armstrong said that cyber crime is going to get worse before it gets better.

He said that the UK has recently spent £1.5 billion to bolster the cyber defence of critical national infrastructure.

At 11h30 on Monday, the following error message appeared on

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Standard Bank’s share price was 0.45% higher at R152.97 in afternoon trade. The website was still not back online at 13:53 on Monday.

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