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Following Barclays' cock-up yesterday, we were surprised to discover that Virgin customers have been unable to access their online accounts since this morning. Has it been the victim of a bank-hating hacker? Has it pulled its service ASAP following a security breach?

That's the problem with media hype. Suddenly if the cashier in your local branch closes the till three customers in front of you, you just know it's the result of a hacker. But we're fair to everyone here at The Reg, so we gave Virgin a call.

The company was unaware of any problem but five minutes later called back to deliver a slightly worried message (unsurprising when you consider Barclays roasting yesterday). "I have some details for you that... um... it is a hardware failure on what forms part of the online service," a spokesman told us. It's been down a while, we tell him, when will it be back up? "We are hoping, expecting it will be up in the near future, in the next couple of hours. After the amendments have been made, it should be up and running."

Forgive us for being suspicious, but following the Barclays debacle yesterday... "Actually, someone just said that to me. It's just very unfortunate timing. We can say that it has nothing to do with security. We run Virgin's banking through a downloaded console and so it is very different to Barclays approach. It is only a hardware problem."

So that's no hackers and no security breach? "We can completely, unequivocally state that it is not a hacking or security issue."

Okay, fair enough. But we do hope Virgin isn't lying to us. ®

[Update: Virgin's friendly PR man contacted us today, aggrieved at the fact we had questioned the faultless integrity of Virgin One by suggesting it may be lying. Cynicism is an essential faculty in the IT world but we accept that to include Virgin in with these scoundrels is utter madness on our part. We have booked an ECT therapy course and hope that will sort the problem. Incidentally, the loss of service was apparently caused by a telephone operator (Virgin refused to tell us which) digging up the road and cutting through a Virgin cable (is a cable, hardware? Did it lie after all? [ssssssssssssst] Sorry, don't know what came over us]

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