UK investigates if cyberattack led to stock exchange outage

GCHQ isn't fully convinced the failure was due to a glitch.

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Chris J Ratcliffe/Getty Images
Chris J Ratcliffe/Getty Images

UK officials are worried that a London Stock Exchange outage in August wasn't just the glitch that many suspected. Wall Street Journal sources say the GCHQ intelligence agency is investigating the possibility that the failure may have been due to a cyberattack. It's reportedly taking a close look at the associated code, including time stamps, to determine if there was any suspicious activity. The exchange was in the middle of updating its systems when the outage happened, and there's a fear this left systems open to attack.

The exchange contracts development out to third-party teams, and a WSJ contact said it's concerned about the security of that software chain. There's a risk that the inadvertent spread of malware or rogue contractors could pose problems.

An exchange spokesperson maintained that the outage was due to a "technical software configuration issue" after an upgrade, and that the organization had "thoroughly investigated" the cause. However, it's clear that GCHQ isn't willing to take any chances. Intelligence agencies worldwide are worried about hacks targeting critical infrastructure, and malicious intent discovered here could be a sign of a greater threat.

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