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Widespread Tech Outage Disrupts Globe  07/19 06:13

   

   WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) -- A global technology outage grounded flights, 
knocked banks and hospital systems offline and media outlets off air on Friday 
in a massive disruption that affected companies and services around the world 
and highlighted dependence on software from a handful of providers.

   Cybersecurity firm CrowdStrike said that the issue believed to be behind the 
outage was not a security incident or cyberattack -- and that a fix was on the 
way. The company said the problem occurred when it deployed a faulty update to 
computers running Microsoft Windows.

   But hours after the problem was first detected, the disarray continued -- 
and escalated.

   Long lines formed at airports in the U.S., Europe and Asia as airlines lost 
access to check-in and booking services at a time when many travelers are 
heading away on summer vacations. News outlets in Australia -- where 
telecommunications were severely affected -- were pushed off air for hours. 
Hospitals and doctor's offices had problems with their appointment systems, 
while banks in South Africa and New Zealand reported outages to their payment 
system or websites and apps.

   Some athletes and spectators descending on Paris ahead of the Olympics were 
delayed, but Games organizers said disruptions were limited and didn't affect 
ticketing or the torch relay.

   DownDectector, which tracks user-reported disruptions to internet services, 
recorded that airlines, payment platforms and online shopping websites across 
the world were affected -- although the disruption appeared piecemeal and was 
apparently related to whether the companies used Microsoft cloud-based services.

   Cyber expert James Bore said real harm would be caused by the outage because 
systems we've come to rely on at critical times are not going to be available. 
Hospitals, for example, will struggle to sort out appointments and those who 
need care may not get it.

   "There are going to be deaths because of this. It's inevitable,'' Bore said. 
"We've got so many systems tied up with this."

   Microsoft 365 posted on social media platform X that the company was 
"working on rerouting the impacted traffic to alternate systems to alleviate 
impact" and that they were "observing a positive trend in service availability."

   The company did not respond to a request for comment.

   CrowdStrike said in an emailed statement that the company "is actively 
working with customers impacted by a defect found in a single content update 
for Windows hosts."

   It said: "This is not a security incident or cyberattack. The issue has been 
identified, isolated and a fix has been deployed."

   The Austin, Texas-based company's Nasdaq-traded shares were down nearly 15% 
in premarket trading early Friday.

   A recording playing on its customer service line said, "CrowdStrike is aware 
of the reports of crashes on Microsoft ports related to the Falcon sensor," 
referring to one of its products used to block online attacks.

   Meanwhile, governments, officials and companies across the world scrambled 
to respond.

   New Zealand's acting prime minister, David Seymour, said on X that officials 
in the country were "moving at pace to understand the potential impacts," 
adding that he had no information indicating it was a cybersecurity threat.

   The issue was causing "inconvenience" for the public and businesses, he 
added.

   On Friday morning, major delays reported at airports grew, with most 
attributing the problems in booking systems of individual airlines.

   In the U.S., the FAA said the airlines United, American, Delta and Allegiant 
had all been grounded.

   Airlines and railways in the U.K. were also affected, with longer than usual 
waiting times.

   With athletes and spectators arriving from around the world for the Paris 
Olympics, the city's airport authority said its computer systems were not 
affected by the outage, but that disruptions to airline operations was causing 
delays at two major Paris airports. The Paris Olympics organizers said the 
outage affected their computer systems and the arrival of some delegations and 
their uniforms and accreditations had been delayed.

   But the impact was limited, the organizers said, and the outages had not 
affected ticketing or the torch relay.

   In Germany, Berlin-Brandenburg Airport halted flights for several hours due 
to difficulties in checking in passengers, while landings at Zurich airport 
were suspended and flights in Hungary, Italy and Turkey disrupted.

   The Dutch carrier KLM said it had been "forced to suspend most" of its 
operations.

   Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport warned that the outage was having a "major 
impact on flights" to and from the busy European hub. The chaotic morning 
coincided with one of the busiest days of the year for Schiphol.

   Widespread problems were reported at Australian airports, where lines grew 
and some passengers were stranded as online check-in services and self-service 
booths were disabled -- although flights were still operating.

   In India, Hong Kong and Thailand, many airlines were forced to manually 
check in passengers. An airline in Kenya was also reporting disruption.

   While the outages were being experienced worldwide, Australia appeared to be 
severely affected by the issue. Disruption reported on the site DownDetector 
included the banks NAB, Commonwealth and Bendigo, and the airlines Virgin 
Australia and Qantas, as well as internet and phone providers such as Telstra.

   National news outlets -- including public broadcaster ABC and Sky News 
Australia -- were unable to broadcast on their TV and radio channels for hours. 
Some news anchors went on air online from dark offices, in front of computers 
showing "blue screens of death."

   Hospitals in several countries also reported problems.

   Britain's National Health Service said the outage caused problems at most 
doctors' offices across England. NHS England said in a statement said the 
glitch was affecting the appointment and patient record system used across the 
public health system.

   Some hospitals in northern Germany canceled all elective surgery scheduled 
for Friday, but emergency care was unaffected.

   Israel said its hospitals and post office operations were disrupted.

   In South Africa, at least one major bank said it was experiencing nationwide 
service disruptions as customers reported they were unable to make payments 
using their bank cards in stores. The New Zealand banks ASB and Kiwibank said 
their services were down as well.

   Shipping was disrupted too: A major container hub in the Baltic port of 
Gdansk, Poland, the Baltic Hub, said it was battling problems resulting from 
the global system outage.

 
 
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