Suspiciously-timed outages this week at the New York Stock Exchange, United Airlines, and the Wall Street Journal disrupted all three organizations in a major way all on the same day. Was it a combination of computer glitches, failed software updates or hack attacks?
One thing is certain: a system failure was responsible for grounding airplanes and halting NYSE trading for hours and it didn’t necessarily have to be that way.
This is Not the First Time Software Corrupted the Stock Market
Software corruption has been responsible for costly disruptions to the stock market in the past.
From the New York Times:
“The Nasdaq stock market went down for three hours in 2013 because of a software bug. The year before, software at Knight Capital Group went awry, leading to errant trades that resulted in losses of $440 million.”
Once again, software may have been to blame. On Wednesday, computer systems at the New York Stock Exchange went down for almost four hours, bringing trading to a halt.
After the outage, the NYSE tweeted:
“The issue we are experiencing is an internal technical issue and is not the result of a cyber breach.
“We chose to suspend trading on NYSE to avoid problems arising from our technical issue.”
According to an anonymous source, a software update was to blame.
But a prophetic tweet from the hactivist group Anonymous the night before the outages has raised suspicions about whether it was just a software update that grounded trading to a halt Wednesday:
Twelve hours before the NYSE stopped trading securities, hacktivist group Anonymous tweeted, “Wonder if tomorrow is going to be bad for Wall Street … We can only hope,” sending some social media users to question the group’s involvement.
Anonymous has previously targeted Wall Street and made headlines in 2011 when it threatened to “destroy” the New York Stock Exchange.
In addition to the stock exchange outage, United Airlines had a technical problem – supposedly a router issue – which grounded all flights for almost two hours Wednesday morning. The homepage of WSJ.com was also down temporarily on Wednesday however the latter may have been related to a slow server response to the number of people visiting the Wall Street Journal website to read about the NYSE outage.
Software Failure or Hack Attack: Are We Prepared?
What happened Wednesday illustrates just how heavily our economy relies on the mercy of functioning hardware and software. While the culprit this week may have simply been a breakdown in technology, we should also be prepared for more hack attacks.
Grounded planes. No stock trades. What if the electric grid was compromised…or the nation’s banking system?
Cambridge University and Lloyds insurance group released a report suggesting that if a cyber assault breached America’s electrical grid, this could create $1tn dollars of damage.
While cyber attacks are on the rise, the third leading cause of system downtime is software corruption (right after human error and hardware failure), which may have been the reason two major organizations went offline this week, disrupting operations for multiple hours.
In both scenarios – attack or software failure – there is a way to resume normal operations to avoid disruptions, downtime and data loss.
How prepared is your organization for a software-related operational disruption?