Xerox Outage Causes A Run on Food

The run on food is not a sign of the new economy, but rather a sign of our dependence on IT systems. Through its acquisition of ACS, Xerox now services Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) Systems in many states. On Saturday 17 of the states Xerox services experienced an outage of their EBT systems. In some areas this removed spending limits for food stamp recipients causing a run on food purchases.

On Saturday at the time of the outage Xerox issued the following press release:

“During a routine test of our back-up systems Saturday morning, Xerox’s Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) system experienced a temporary shutdown. While the system is now up and running, beneficiaries in the 17 affected states continue to experience connectivity issues to access their benefits. This disruption impacts EBT beneficiaries who rely on the system for SNAP and WIC. Technical staff is addressing the issue and expect the system to be restored soon. Beneficiaries requiring access to their benefits can work with their local retailers who can activate an emergency voucher system where available. We appreciate our clients’ patience while we work through this outage as quickly as possible”

This time the outage was not due to any outside factors or security breaches, but rather a failure in their system. A test of the backup systems caused 17 states a loss of service for approximately 5 hours on Saturday.

Upon resolving the outage Xerox released this statement:

“Beneficiary access to programs such as SNAP, TANF, and other programs has been restored to the 17 States where Xerox (NYSE: XRX) provides EBT service. Re-starting the EBT system required time to ensure service was back at full functionality. Beneficiaries who required immediate access to their benefits could work with their local merchants who could activate an emergency voucher process where available. We appreciate our clients’ patience while we resolved this issue and apologize for any inconvenience. We realize that access to these benefits is important to families in the states we serve. We continue to investigate the cause of the issue so we can take steps to ensure a similar interruption does not re-occur.”

Even companies known for their reliability and technical prowess can succumb to unexpected failures. Do you back up your small business or home data? See my book for more information on protecting yourself

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