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  • Wells Fargo customers experience the third widespread outage in a week.
  • The banking company claims the problem to be a fire suppression system going off in one of their data centers.
  • People suspect cybersecurity issues, as the scope of affection is far wider than they would anticipate.

A fire outbreak incident at a server farm in Minnesota has resulted in a nation-wide outage of all Wells Fargo financial services, including online banking and over 13,000 ATMs. This resulted in 70 million customers of the company having their transactions declined since yesterday, while the combination of not being able to access the Web portal has definitely laid the ground for ‘cold sweat’ situations. Wells Fargo was quick to publish apologetic messages on their website and social media, stating that the problem was caused by a fire suppression system activation in one of their main data centers.

As a Wells Fargo employee disclosed on Reddit, the data center that was impacted had everything manually unplugged, except for the core network gear, while the failovers that are in place for emergency situations like this one did not work as expected. No details about the fire and its extent have been revealed, so whether or not damage to the servers occurred is unknown at this time. Many hope for loan data wiping, but as Wells Fargo performs frequent offline backups, getting saved by the fire is not at all likely.

The fact that outages of smaller scale have plagued Wells Fargo services since last week does not make the official explanation wholly believable. The official Twitter handle counts a handful of similar apologetic messages for widespread service outages, and many customers have naturally started to suspect that DoS attacks or data leak prevention and mitigation may be the actual reasons behind the blackouts. A detail that further promotes this hypothetical scenario is that Wells Fargo only called the fire department four hours after the incident started. Another point that fuels disbelief is the seemingly disproportional extent of the system outage caused by fire troubles in a single data center. The company tried to answer these concerns and highlight that the system outage was not a result of a cybersecurity event through the following tweet:

The services are now gradually being restored, but Wells Fargo has not given a clear indication of when to expect everything to be back online, nor did they disclose how many people are affected. At the beginning of this month, similar outages that were quite widespread were left with minimum clarifications, so it is quite possible that Wells Fargo won’t provide a detailed explanation of what happened now either. This approach is never a good one, and it can only play the role of cradling suspicions and general customer dissatisfaction.

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