Thai business owners and visitors in Cambodia were left scrambling at the end of last week and over the weekend when access to Thailand’s fourth largest bank, Kasikornbank (KBank), was blocked for users of two of the countries largest internet service providers.
Customers of Cambodian-owned internet service provider (ISP) Digi, and mobile operator Cellcard, were unable to access to the KBank website, blocking access to internet banking and account management services.
The problems first started to emerge on Thursday and continued through the weekend, with support staff from all parties involved — KBank, Digi, and Cellcard — each maintaining that there was nothing wrong with their respective services.
Coming at the end of the week the blockage prevented KBank customers in Cambodia from paying suppliers and honouring agreements with all attempts to access KBank’s various website presences returning a nondescript ‘time-out’ error.
When KBank eventually responded to inquiries from AEC News Today its advice was to ‘try a different browser’. After screen shots were supplied from three different browsers KBank advised that it had subsequently tested and verified its website was working normally, offering by way of an explanation that the fault may be ‘the stability of internet signals or using our website in the country which blocks website from overseas’.
Digi technical support also denied that there was any problem with its network, while Cellcard’s customer service promised that a representative would be back in touch, only to thereafter ignore any additional messages regarding the blockage.
Tests conducted by AEC News Today found that the KBank website could be accessed from servers in a number of countries when using a virtual private network (VPN), including from as far afield as Australia, Brazil, Greece, Lithuania, and Ukraine, as well as from those located in neighbouring Asean countries such as Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore. Access from Cambodia was also possible using services provided by Opennet, and Smart Axiata.
Despite presenting evidence of our findings to KBank and Digi, both parties maintained that there was nothing wrong with either the KBank website, or Digi’s internet connection.
According to the Thai Business Council in Cambodia (TBCC) there are some 150 Thai businesses operating in Cambodia. With KBank being Thailand’s fourth largest bank the potential for internet traffic blocking to significantly impact many people is not inconsiderable.
Representatives from KBank, Digi, and Cellcard did not respond to requests for comment prior to publication.
For Digi customers the blockage/ fault was cleared sometime on Sunday morning, but as of Monday morning Cellcard customers could still not access any of the KBank domains.
Update: This story was last updated at 10:50 on January 9, 2018:
Shortly after the update at 17:45 yesterday a Kbank representative advised that the issue had been resolved. The spokesperson emphatically denied that KBank block internet access to its website from anywhere in the world.
A short time later a Digi representative also informed AEC News Today that the blockage had been rectified, though could shed no information as to what the cause was. Cellcard is yet to communicate.
Neither Digi nor Cellcard have explained why their customers were blocked from accessing the KBank website.
An earlier update noted that as of 17:45 yesterday Digi and Cellcard customers were then able to access the KBank website as normal, while an earlier update noted that as of 13:00 on January 8, 2017 Cellcard customers could still not access the KBank website, while the fault affecting access for Digi customers had returned, after having been cleared sometime on Sunday morning.
Feature photo John Le Fevre
John Le Fevre
He has spent extensive periods of time working in Africa and throughout Southeast Asia, with stints in the Middle East, the USA, and England.
He has covered major world events including Operation Desert Shield/ Storm, the 1991 pillage in Zaire, the 1994 Rwanda genocide, the 1999 East Timor independence unrest, the 2004 Asian tsunami, and the 2009, 2010, and 2014 Bangkok political protests.
In 1995 he was a Walkley Award finalist, the highest awards in Australian journalism, for his coverage of the 1995 Zaire (now Democratic Republic of Congo) Ebola outbreak.
Prior to AEC News Today he was the deputy editor and Thailand and Greater Mekong Sub-region editor for The Establishment Post, predecessor of Asean Today.
In the mid-80s and early 90s he owned JLF Promotions, the largest above and below the line marketing and PR firm servicing the high-technology industry in Australia. It was sold in 1995.
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