The actions of hackers have had some dire consequences in the past, but one potential outcome that many leading figures are really worried about is an attack on equity markets. A writer branded “Eightkey” has described in great detail what could happen in this sort of scenario. “Eightkey” says that if an enemy of the US did decide to break into the computers of a “High Frequency Trading Company, Dark Pool Crossing Network, or Brokerage Company” they could use rogue trading algorithms and change codes to bring dire results. These results could lead to millions of shares being bought or sold illegally, bringing global trading to a halt and obliterating the value of a single stock. “Eightkey” says that if 100 stocks of leading Fortune 500 companies were decimated in value the whole market could fall to pieces, with “uncalculated economic damage” resulting.
Glitches and Erratic Trades
Now that computers have taken the place of floor traders in making key decisions, we have already seen numerous examples of glitches disrupting the system. These, though non-hacker related glitches have cost vast sums of money. For instance, Knight Capital lost $450 million last year and it’s said that Goldman Sachs are still trying to recover from $100 million in erratic trades. Hackers did find their way into the Nasdaq Stock Market computer system in 2011, but didn’t get as far as the exchange trading platform on that occasion.
Hackers Becoming More “Sophisticated”?
A Reuters report from this year found that as many as 53 of the world’s securities exchanges had been hit with at least one cyberattack in the last twelve months. Most of these attacks involved viruses or denial-of-service, but it is said that the attacks are becoming more and more adventurous as hackers become increasingly “sophisticated”. “Eightkey” warns that a bigger, more devastating attack could happen swiftly, causing vast damage to the worldwide economy.