Friday, July 19, 2013

This is what a destabilizing cyberattack on financial markets would look like


Almost 90% of the world’s financial exchanges believe that cyber-crime poses a systemic risk to the securities industry, according to a report (pdf) published by the International Organisation of Securities Exchanges (Iosco) and the World Federation of Exchanges this week. More than half of those exchanges have faced cyber attacks in the last year, and financial firms have had to invest huge sums of money to maintain their security. At least so far, they seem to have been mostly effective at warding off hackers.

These precautions hardly stop them from envisioning the worst-case scenario, however. Despite the momentary market freak-outs that a single, strong attack—a false tweet, a trading glitch, or the odd denial of service (DDoS) attack—could cause, these kind of attacks aren’t really exchanges’ top concerns. Instead, what keeps them up at night is a drawn-out attack that slowly corrupts their systems from the inside, and could be absolutely devastating if not caught in time.
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