Security

NYSE, United Airlines' technical woes no cause for cyberpanic, experts say

Cyber security analyst Morgan Wright on dangers of jumping to conclusions in era of the mega data breach

 

The technical issues that rocked the New York Stock Exchange, United Airlines and the Wall Street Journal Wednesday are no reason for panic, and talk of a major cybersecurity event is overblown, experts say.

Trading was halted for almost four hours on the NYSE floor Wednesday after an internal technical issue with its computer systems was detected, setting off speculation that a cyberglitch at United Airlines and a temporary online outage at The Wall Street Journal were connected.

But experts say there is little to link the problems to nefarious cyberactivity.

“Unless evidence proves otherwise, this was the sort of glitch that happens in companies every day and which most shrug off without a glance,” Charles King, principal analyst of the tech research firm Pund-IT, said in an email to FoxNews.com.

Networking giant Akamai, which helps businesses deliver Web content, applications and online video, did not see any anomalous activity on its platform, spokesman Rob Morton told FoxNews.com.

Shortly after the outage began, the NYSE tweeted that the issue was internal, and not a breach. United Airlines also blamed its problems on a systems snafu. The airline grounded all flights Wednesday morning as a result of the problem, which it later attributed to a networking router issue.

The Wall Street Journal’s homepage was also down briefly on Wednesday, displaying a “504” outage, though other sections on the newspaper’s website continued to function. The homepage was restored quickly.

Tech experts say the recent spate of high-profile data breaches at Sony and the U.S. government’s Office of Personnel Management (OPM) have created paranoia.

“It’s possible that, given the state of mind of people at the moment, that they may be making connections that they wouldn’t otherwise,” Roger Kay, analyst at Endpoint Technologies, told FoxNews.com.

Kay noted that previous headline-grabbing system problems, such as the one that paralyzed Nasdaq in 2013, did not immediately prompt cybersecurity fears. “The mood has changed and people now think it may be the boogeyman,” he said.

Paul Martini, CEO of security specialist iboss Cybersecurity, agreed. “The current poor state of cyber security has created a phenomenon that causes people to assume every technology hiccup is the result of a hack,” he told FoxNews.com in an email. “We're going to have to up our cyber security posture quickly to regain consumer confidence.”

A cryptic tweet from the hacker group Anonymous earlier this week fueled much of Wednesday’s speculation about skullduggery. “Wonder if tomorrow is going to be bad for Wall Street.... we can only hope,” it tweeted late Tuesday. 

An Anonymous tweet on Wednesday appeared to revel in the unfolding brouhaha over the prior day’s tweet: “LoL everyone got whipped into a frenzy about the NYSE tweet... hmmm... wonder how stocks will do tomorrow?”

“Anonymous would certainly like to be seen as powerful – they want you to think that maybe it was them,” said Kay. “[Tuesday’s tweet] could be just an idle message on the part of an Anonymous person, but the timing does raise an eyebrow.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Follow James Rogers on Twitter @jamesjrogers