'Malware' takes Aussie money-manager MyBudget down for five days

Bills going unpaid by service that exists to pay bills

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Updated One of Australia's largest debt-management services has gone TITSUP, leaving thousands of users in financial limbo.

Adelaide-based MyBudget has been down since Saturday, 9 May. The company's client portal, app, messaging system, and its automatic payment system have all become unavailable.

MyBudget provides debt consolidation and other services for its clients, and helps them to manage money by making payments on their behalf. The company says that while the systems are down, users will not be able to access their funds and automatic payments will not be able to be processed, leaving many with urgent bills in a lurch.

In an email to customers on Sunday, the company said it expected the issue to be resolved within 48 hours, but as of Thursday afternoon, the company's systems are still down. The company said that users can still process urgent bills over the phone, but urged them to seek extensions where possible.

The outage has led to a surge of customers calling the company to organise their finances. Users have reported being unable to get through because busy lines or very long wait times. Users took to Twitter to complain: "I have been trying all day," said @AllisonYancey. "Will my rent be paid on time this Friday or not?"

In a video update emailed to customers on Tuesday, the company's founder, Tammy Barton, assured users that their money "is absolutely safe and secure". "I want to let you know that we've been working around the clock, literally, to get everything fixed, tested and back online as soon as possible," she said.

Barton also said that the company would waive customer fees and reimburse any late fees incurred from the outage.

The company hasn't yet said what caused the outage and did not respond to our request for an explanation. But El Reg smells a ransomware attack on the basis that apps are unavailable and the company seems to think it can restore its operations.

In a video update yesterday, Barton says that the issue is "close to being resolved". "We are committed to not going back online until we can do so with absolute confidence in the system," she said.

But at the time of writing, there's no sign her confidence was justified. ®

Updated at 14:15 AEST 15/5/2020 to add

MyBudget has issued an update that states: "As a result of investigations undertaken so far, we can confirm that a malware incident occurred which has interrupted a number of our automated systems."

"We can assure you that clients’ money remains secure and has not been impacted. We apologise for the delay in communicating the cause of the outage. We hope you appreciate that we needed some time to perform due diligence and forensic investigations, which is typical for these types of incidents."

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