Many small and medium-sized businesses found it difficult to process payments recently when the Square card readers went offline for a day.
Block, Inc, the parent company of the Square readers said the outages were due to a DNS (Domain Name System) issue and not as a result of a cyber-attack.
DNS issues are extremely common within IT circles because of the complexity of the process of making changes and the time needed to propagate both changes and issues arising if things go wrong.
Simply put, DNS converts common URLs into IP addresses that underlie websites and services such as Square that are supported by them.
If a change is made to a DNS incorrectly it can break that link and make the website appear as if it is offline.
This is apparently what occurred at Square last week and made the devices, which require an Internet connection, unable to process transactions.
Block apologized for the outage and promised that it had updated multiple of its systems to prevent future similar issues.
The company also stated that it was working hard on increasing its ability to store transactions offline if the system or vendor’s Internet goes offline.
Block, Inc. has 53 million clients using its products globally.
These products include the familiar Square reader, Cash App, which allows person-to-person fund transfers, Weebly, a web hosting service, and Tidal, a music streaming service.
The company acquired the Australian digital payment services company Afterpay last year.
As clients go increasingly cashless, companies are relying on transaction systems like Square more and more exclusively.
Even short outages can cost vendors thousands of dollars and this latest failure is giving many companies pause.