Home >news >world >Conspiracy theories abound after outages at NYSE, WSJ and United Airlines

New Delhi: Three outages came one after another on Wednesday morning, affecting one of America’s biggest airlines, its largest financial news publication and its main stock exchange. The spate of technological foul-ups grounded United Airlines flights, sidelined the Wall Street Journal’s website and halted trading for more than three hours on the New York Stock Exchange.

The LA Times reports that the successive timing of these events ignited widespread speculation about hacking attacks and conspiracy theories about who might be responsible, raising serious concerns about the vulnerability of vital organisations that can be crippled by cyber attacks. Read more

The government and company officials, however, said the causes were more mundane and technical. The NYSE said the trading suspension was not because the system was hacked and attributed it to a “technical issue". Forbes reports that the system-wide trading halt began at 11:32am Eastern Wednesday. In a series of tweets posted nearly an hour after trading stopped, the NYSE confirmed that the issue it is experiencing is not due to a cyber breach and is, instead, the result of internal technical issues.

Yet, the glitch had almost no impact on the trading of US stocks and shows how interconnected and competitive the stock market has become. Read more

While United Airlines blamed faulty network connectivity caused by a router malfunction for grounding its global fleet for almost two hours, the homepage of The Wall Street Journal started displaying the 504 error message just before noon meaning a gateway server was timing out. Some insiders speculated that massive traffic caused by the NYSE outage crashed the newspaper’s website.

Opinions emerged that major institutions were failing to properly implement high-availability systems. Matt Gerber, CEO of Digital Fortress, a cloud services and data centre operator based in Seattle, told CRN that for those failures to have occurred, the systems must have had shortcomings in built-in redundancy, fault tolerance and instantaneous failover capabilities, and they likely were not properly tested.

Experts in the field of computer science have also said they would not be surprised if the outages ended up being a cyber attack since it’s too hard to believe the three things were coincidental. Read more

Conspiracy theories floated around on Wednesday with attention paid to a rather unsubtle tweet written by an account (@YourAnonNews) with ties to the hacktivist group Anonymous with 1.4 million followers. “Wonder if tomorrow is going to be bad for Wall Street..we can only hope".

The tweet, made at 11:45pm Tuesday, came less than 12 hours before the NYSE announced technical glitches were forcing it to suspend trading. The timing, if nothing else, is exceptional. Here are top 10 conspiracy tweets during the NYSE outage.

Salon reports that ironically, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson was delivering a speech on the very subject of cybersecurity while the outages took place.

The news generated buzz in Washington, DC. White House press secretary Josh Earnest said President Obama was updated on the situation throughout the day, and that Homeland Security Adviser Lisa Monaco told Obama there is “no indication that malicious actors are involved" in the glitch.

The Washington Post reports that the event rattled leaders who were already anxious over the temporary grounding of United Airlines flights earlier in the day. Read more

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