Amex site holed up by Slammer worm

In a rare but commendable display of public disclosure within the financial community, American Express has revealed that its Australian customer Web site was all but taken down during the recent Slammer SQL worm attack.

Computerworld Australia understands that the problem originated at American Express' main Internet data center in Phoenix, Arizona, and subsequently sucked down critical amounts of bandwidth around the globe.

Amex's Australian spokesperson Luisa Megale told Computerworld: "Our Internet (and) online environment started getting very slow – customers were having real problems logging-on in Australia and getting through. To be fair, it was so slow it was unusable. Nobody is going to click, and then wait two minutes.

"It started in the (US), that's the first place we noticed it. I got a call at 2:30 a.m. on the Sunday morning saying that traffic was really slowing down. I know I wasn't the only PR called over the weekend. By the Sunday night we had service restoration all done and dusted," Megale said, adding that customers were still able to use Amex's IVR (interactive voice response) system to conduct transactions.

"But a lot of people like to transact online and they just couldn't. But you could still call us up and do the things you normally do online."

American Express ranks as the fifth largest credit card provider in Australia after the 'big four' banks (ANZ, CBA, NAB and Westpac).

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Julian Bajkowski

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