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Wednesday, July 08, 2015

Cyber War I...? (We have three suspects.)

Technical problems have shut down the New York Stock Exchange, the Wall Street Journal website, and United Airlines -- all on the same day. The NYSE says that no cyberattack occurred; many people think otherwise.

United blames their problem on a faulty router. But even if we ascribe that particular problem to happenstance, I don't feel comfortable ascribing all three issues to a "coincidence theory."

It should be noted that China is, at this moment, experiencing a tumultuous stock sell-off.
The social and political repercussions could also be significant for the government. Many ordinary investors have poured their savings into the stocks, making them especially vulnerable to the market volatility.
The losses have been brutal. And the full extent of the pain may be even steeper, since nearly half of the stocks have stopped trading.
Let us presume, for argument's sake, that these events are connected. How might they be connected? Just what is the narrative?

One possibility is that China's current problems (which followed hard upon the Greek referendum and the resultant troubles for the euro) were deemed likely to cause a massive sell-off here in the U.S. To forestall a possible catastrophe, the powers-that-be at the NYSE decided that the market needed a rest -- a pause which would allow all parties to catch their collective breath.

Tyler Durden at Zero Hedge says that his website was also subjected to cyberattack. I'm not sure that Zero Hedge has enough influence (in the grand scheme of things) to justify such a measure, but he offers some compelling visual evidence that Chinese hackers subjected his site to a DDOS attack.

If the Zero Hedge graphic is accurate, I have to ask: Why would China leave such an obvious trail? If you are a truly gifted hacker, you probably know how to falsify your IP address.

Maybe it was neither the NYSE nor the Chinese. Maybe it was Anonymous.

Yesterday, the Anonymous Twitter feed included this startling message: "Wonder if tomorrow is going to be bad for Wall Street.... we can only hope."

Strangely, the same Twitter feed has spent most of this day talking about the vulnerability found in Adobe's Flash. For more (but not much more, alas), see here.

You know what else is strange? So far, most of the mainstream media seems reluctant to mention that unnerving Anonymous message.

Added note: In compliance with the Conspiracy Theorist Full Employment Act of 1994, CNN has offered a hilariously lame explanation for these "glitches."

As many of you know, the Act mandates that the government and all other powerful entities (large corporations, media conglomerates and so forth) must conduct all of their activities in the most suspicious way imaginable, even if the things being done are really quite innocuous. The Act came into being when Congress understood that the manufacture of conspiracy theories would soon become America's only growth industry.
Speaking as someone who flies UA >100k miles/year (and is currently stuck in an airport waiting for a delayed flight), I'm surprised anyone even noticed when SHARES went down.

The last time I looked at the stats for the last month, UAL was running about 50% ontime, so it's not like this represents a big shift from "normal operations".
Regarding China, stocks have been going up excessively quickly for no real reason. A bubble pumped up by shareholders to allow them to profit from all those small-time saver-investors, which they're now cashing in, perhaps. Or, of course, you don't actually need to own share to sell them and bring down the market price, you can short.
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