The official word is that it was just an untimely “coincidence,” yet others believe that the early July technical glitch that caused the New York Stock Exchange to shut down for three hours was far more than that – either cyber terrorism or a cyber hack.
Here are the facts we can count on: On Wednesday, July 8th at 11:32 a.m. ET, the New York Stock Exchange – the world’s biggest financial exchange both in volume and total dollar trading, valued at over $20 trillion, was suspended mid operation, not reopening again until 3:10 p.m., only 50 minutes before the scheduled market close.
That same day, the US Air inexplicably suffered a computer “router issue” that caused more than 800 flights to be grounded or delayed before it was remedied. And that same day, the venerable newspaper The Wall Street Journal – closely tied to NYSE reporting – saw their website send traffic to another site for a period of time, which they called a “technical issue.”
That’s the New York Stock Exchange, Wall Street Journal, and United Airlines thoroughly crippled all on the same day.
But after that the details get murky, as the NYSE and government agencies vehemently deny and foul play, attributing the freeze of the $150-billion-a-day financial market to a technical glitch resulting from pre-scheduled software updates.
Myriad parties, both from the financial, governmental, and law enforcement sectors went on record quickly to say that there was no sign of malfeasance or cyber terrorism, among them the NYSE itself, the Securities and Exchange Commission, and White House spokesman Josh Earnest.
Despite these calming statements – which some say came far too quickly not to raise questions if they were sweeping the incident under the proverbial rug to prevent panic in the markets – serious questions remain. President Obama was briefed by Homeland Security Advisor Lisa Monaco on the incident, U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, who chairs the nation’s Financial Stability Oversight Council, has been updated, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation was put on notice and is looking into the possibility of cyber terrorism.
So was it all a coincidence? In a statement to Congress, FBI Director James Comey offered the cautious opinion that, “In my business, you don’t love coincidences.”
The plot thickens as a notorious international cyber hacker group, called Anonymous, issued a warning that alluded to the NYSE disruption via Twitter Tuesday night, hours before the actual shut down. Their cryptic Tweet read, “Wonder if tomorrow is going to be bad for Wall Street…we can only hope.”
Anonymous, with nefarious splinter groups and Twitter accounts, is considered either proficient hacker, cyber terrorist, or modern day Robin Hood with an agenda of exposing and combatting the wealthy, depending on whom you ask. So how would this renegade group know about a Wall Street technical issue the night BEFORE it actually happened? That’s far too to compelling to discount.
And if that’s not evidence enough that the NYSE and governmental agencies are purposely covering up the incident – albeit for good reason – consider this:
Every morning, a different company or favorite person is honored at the New York Stock Exchange, ringing the ceremonial bell to kick off the exchange’s business day. The morning after the attack, the entity being honored was an Exchange-Traded Fund that tracks the performance of cyber-security companies, with the ticker symbol, HACK.
That’s right, HACK was displayed on digital banners, tickers, and baseball caps all over the exchange floor that next morning, ringing the bell to initiate the start of trading on a day after the cyber shut downs.
If that’s not reason to disregard the theory that this was all coincidence, despite it being only the seventh time in the history of the NYSE since its inception in 1817 that it was suspended – most of those for world events like September 11, Hurricane Sandy in 2012, and Abraham Lincoln’s assassination – heed the words of Tom Farley, the NYSE’s president, when asked about the shut down, “It’s not a good day.”