An investigation has been launched into an incident which took the London Stock Exchange (LSE) offline in August, 2019.
On August 16, 2019 LSE was knocked offline for 90 minutes leaving traders unable to buy or sell.
At the time of the incident, officials blamed the outage on a software glitch however, according to the Wall Street Journal (WSJ), the incident may not have been due to software issues but rather a cyber attack.
Sources told the publication that the UK Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) contacted LSE for additional information in the past two months, with the purpose of finding out if the outage was due to hackers attempting to “disrupt markets.”
The report by the WSJ alleges that internal systems were being updated at the time of the outage, thus there could be a possibility that the upgrade could have opened up the systems to be exploited.
A LSE spokesperson denied that the outage was due to cyber attackers: “The incident was caused by a technical software configuration issue following an upgrade of functionality and was not a cyber security incident.”
“London Stock Exchange experienced a technical issue on the morning of August 16, 2019 that impacted trading in certain securities for one hour and forty minutes until it was successfully resolved,” the LSE spokesperson said. “London Stock Exchange takes its commitment to run orderly markets for its members seriously and has thoroughly investigated the root cause of the issue to mitigate against any future incidents.
A spokesperson from the National Cyber Security Centre said in a statement: “The NCSC has not treated the LSE outage as a cyber security related incident and has not investigated it as such.”
Last year the Hong Kong Stock Exchange’s regulatory disclosure site was shut down by hackers, subsequently leading to shares being suspended. In 2013, a Chicago metal exchange was also struck by a cyber attack.
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