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Computer Issues Affecting Millions of NatWest Bank Customers in UK

IT problems entering third day; other IT glitches galore hit Twitter, BT, Hannaford

2 min read
Computer Issues Affecting Millions of NatWest Bank Customers in UK

I would assume that the computer rage meter pegged for a lot of people yesterday, and for some, it will likely remain so for the next few days if not longer.

According to news reports like this one at the London Telegraph, millions of customers of the UK bank NatWest and some 100 000 customers of Northern Ireland's Ulster Bank, both of which are owned by RBS Group (and in which the UK government owns an 84 percent stake), have not had their accounts updated since Wednesday evening due to "technical issues" with the banks computer systems. As a result, customers have been having trouble with their accounts, leaving many without any money or the ability to automatically pay their bills.

In addition, a small number of Royal Bank of Scotland customers are said by the Telegraph to have been affected as well.  In a story from the BBC, RBS is claiming that the underlying technical problem has been resolved, but it may take until Monday or later before all customer accounts are up to date. However, it took months for account update problems to be resolved for many National Australia Bank (NAB) customers when a similar IT problem happened in late 2010.

NatWest took to Twitter to provide status updates to its customers yesterday, but Twitter had problems of its own, going down twice yesterday. According to this story in ComputerWorld, Twitter engineers said that a “cascading bug” in one of its "infrastructure components" was the culprit. Twitter ended up rolling its software back to a more stable version.

Of course, you may not have noticed that Twitter was having problems if you were in parts of London or Sheffield and a customer of BT’s broadband service. This story at ComputerWeekly said that BT suffered multiple equipment failures that took down BT’s broadband services and Wi-Fi hotspots in different parts of the UK for up to five hours yesterday.

And just to round out yesterday’s gluttony of IT glitches and one that hopefully will be resolved sometime today, most of the 181 stores in the Hannaford Brothers supermarket chain were unable to process debit or credit cards at checkout yesterday due to a software problem stated this story at the Kennebec Journal. Hannaford supermarkets operate across Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York and Vermont. An AP story early this morning says that the company hopes to have the problem resolved later today.

You may remember that Hannaford had 4.2 million credit cards stolen in 2008; the ring leader of the hacking gang was later caught and sentenced to 20 years in prison.

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An IBM Quantum Computer Will Soon Pass the 1,000-Qubit Mark

The Condor processor is just one quantum-computing advance slated for 2023

4 min read
This photo shows a woman working on a piece of apparatus that is suspended from the ceiling of the laboratory.

A researcher at IBM’s Thomas J. Watson Research Center examines some of the quantum hardware being constructed there.

Connie Zhou/IBM

IBM’s Condor, the world’s first universal quantum computer with more than 1,000 qubits, is set to debut in 2023. The year is also expected to see IBM launch Heron, the first of a new flock of modular quantum processors that the company says may help it produce quantum computers with more than 4,000 qubits by 2025.

This article is part of our special report Top Tech 2023.

While quantum computers can, in theory, quickly find answers to problems that classical computers would take eons to solve, today’s quantum hardware is still short on qubits, limiting its usefulness. Entanglement and other quantum states necessary for quantum computation are infamously fragile, being susceptible to heat and other disturbances, which makes scaling up the number of qubits a huge technical challenge.

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