Members' data unaffected by service outage: CPF

The Central Provident Fund (CPF) Board reassured members yesterday that all data, including account details, remain unaffected by the major service outage to its website more than two weeks ago.

It reiterated that the technical issues are confined to the website and therefore do not affect its back- end systems and databases.

Together with its vendor Microsoft, CPF has since replaced the "integration component" used by the website, which was found to be the root cause of the technical issues.

On Nov 30, high visitor traffic during a website upgrade led to a malfunction of the component and, in a few isolated cases, caused wrong information to be displayed.

The system was then taken off-line as a safeguard to allow CPF to conduct a full review.

As of yesterday, a few e-services such as adjustment to monthly education loan, registration as self-employed and My Messages remained unavailable.

CPF has said that these services would progressively be made available after extensive testing to the system is completed, but it has declined to provide a date.

Meanwhile, members can submit requests for these services using My e-Concierge, an authenticated webform for such submissions.

Following the outage, service was first restored at self-help service terminals at five CPF service centres on Tuesday morning, while the CPF website e-services were up later that night.

Before Tuesday, members could only check and print their account balances, contribution and transaction history.

When asked about the possible technical issues that could arise during a website upgrade, Veritas senior system engineer Kunal Panchal said: "One of the most common issues would be the website application not being scaled or sized correctly to manage a sudden burst of heavy traffic to the site."

He explained that it would typically take two to three weeks to fix such technical issues, as "the way an application interacts with the underlying system database is a complex process".

"If changes are made to the application and its interaction process, time is required to test and validate it to ensure that both the existing and new functionalities of the application will work properly," he added.

On Tuesday evening, CPF also warned members of a fake duplication of its website, which looked authentic but had extra URL links that could redirect users to unrelated malicious sites.

The fake website has since been taken down.

Additional reporting by Lester Hio

This article was first published on December 18, 2015.
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