Bank’s data center knocked offline by really loud noise

Hard drives don’t dig bad vibrations.

Graham Cluley
Graham Cluley
@[email protected]

Bank's data center knocked offline by really loud noise

Andrada Fiscutean of Motherboard writes:

ING Bank’s main data center in Bucharest, Romania, was severely damaged over the weekend during a fire extinguishing test. In what is a very rare but known phenomenon, it was the loud sound of inert gas being released that destroyed dozens of hard drives. The site is currently offline and the bank relies solely on its backup data center, located within a couple of miles’ proximity.

Surprise surprise folks. Hard disk drives (HDDs) have moving parts and if a sound is loud enough (sounds are just a vibration in the air, remember) then it might cause the read/write heads of your hard drive to jiggle so much that they end up crashing.

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According to reports, the data center downtime caused credit card transactions to fail, internet banking to fail, and ATMs to go kaput. Disgruntled customers expressed their displeasure on Facebook.

Unhappy ING customers on Facebook

Some of you may remember a viral video by Sun’s Brendan Gregg that warned us all some years ago about the dangers of “Shouting in the Data Center”:

Shouting in the Datacenter

Of course, it’s not just volume that is the issue (in Gregg’s video you can see that it is already quite noisy even when he isn’t shouting). The frequency of the loud noise also has its part to play.

For what it’s worth, solid state drives (SSDs) don’t have any moving parts which means that they’re not going to care if they suffer a shock or vibration.

Graham Cluley is an award-winning keynote speaker who has given presentations around the world about cybersecurity, hackers, and online privacy. A veteran of the computer security industry since the early 1990s, he wrote the first ever version of Dr Solomon's Anti-Virus Toolkit for Windows, makes regular media appearances, and is the co-host of the popular "Smashing Security" podcast. Follow him on Twitter, Mastodon, Threads, Bluesky, or drop him an email.

2 comments on “Bank’s data center knocked offline by really loud noise”

  1. coyote

    'For what it's worth, solid state drives (SSDs) don't have any moving parts which means that they're not going to care if they suffer a shock or vibration.'

    To be fair my understanding is it is they are more resistance to shock. But of course the real problem with SSDs is the capacity to price ratio isn't yet ideal for all set ups. So yes they're great but whether a data centre can make use of them or not I don't know. I wouldn't say it isn't possible but is it practical and cost effective?

  2. Adrian

    Sure, it's inconvenient when the bank goes offline for a few hours, but I really have to wonder about these people who are so desperate to spend that their entire life falls apart when they can't get to the bank for an hour or two. (see comments cribbed from facebook eg "I can't eat I can't drink I can't do anything") How about planning ahead, carry a little cash in reserve, read a book or do something else for a while?

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