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Global McDonalds IT outage result of third-party error

An IT outage that forced McDonald's to temporarily shutter thousands of restaurants has been blamed on a configuration error by a third-party supplier, but there is no suspicion of foul play

A global IT outage that forced fast food chain McDonald’s to temporarily suspend its operations in multiple countries has been blamed on a third-party provider error made during a configuration change, with no suspicion of any form of cyber attack.

The issues were first observed in Australia and began to affect the UK at around 5am BST on Friday 15 March, with reports of outlets having to close and disruption to online ordering via its app just ahead of the morning breakfast rush.

McDonald’s executive vice-president and global CIO, Brian Rice, later said the outage was “quickly identified and corrected” and reaffirmed that it was “not directly caused by a cyber security event”.

“Reliability and stability of our technology are a priority, and I know how frustrating it can be when there are outages. I understand that this impacts you, your restaurant teams and our customers,” said Rice, addressing the organisation’s global employees, franchise holders and other partners.

“What happened today has been an exception to the norm, and we are working with absolute urgency to resolve it. Thank you for your patience, and we sincerely apologise for any inconvenience this has caused.”

Besides McDonald’s UK business, its operations in multiple other countries, including Austria, Germany, Japan, New Zealand, and the US, were also knocked out. It is thought thousands of restaurants – McDonalds operates 1,450 outlets in the UK but more than 3,000 in Japan – were affected.

McDonald’s gave no further indication of the precise nature of the error, although Associated Press was additionally able to confirm that the problems were not related to an ongoing migration to Google Cloud that is underway at the organisation.

Announced in December 2023, this multi-year project is specifically designed to speed up day-to-day operations at McDonald’s branches, optimising the performance of its self-service kiosks, and enabling restaurant managers to use their resources more efficiently, among other things.

Meanwhile, some of the chain’s fiercest rivals were quick to weigh in on the days events, with the official Burger King X account posting: “Not loving IT.”

Customers also predictably took to social media platforms to vent their frustration, while McDonalds staff with little to do for a while swapped stories via their dedicated sub-Reddit, talking about having to repeatedly restart point of sale systems, and in some cases resorting to pen and paper.

One observed that even if it wasn’t a cyber attack, it was a takedown that “a hacker would be proud of”.

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