The mysterious system outages on July 8, 2015
“Where there’s smoke, there’s fire”. Words to live by in our modern-day world where media faces make up the news and world leaders speak from behind a smokescreen. Case in point – there may be more to last week’s one-in-a-million coincidence where three separate software glitches brought down the Wall Street Journal, United Airlines flight systems, and the New York Stock Exchange – all at the same time. After wiping the sleep from their eyes, many are now wondering if there were more to these cyber incidents than meets the eye.
The NYSE outage
At 11:32 AM on July 8, 2015, the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) computers went down, causing a four-hour suspension of trading and a loss of about $400 million in trades.
“NYSE/NYSE MKT – Trading Suspended
11:51 am, 2015-07-08
Market: NYSE, NYSE MKT / Services Impacted: Trading
NYSE/NYSE MKT has temporarily suspended trading in all symbols. All open orders will be cancelled.“
Homeland Security was quick to announce that the system crash was not a cyberattack. However, at virtually the same moment, the Wall Street Journal’s systems went down. Moments later, United Airlines was forced to ground all flights (4,900 flights were affected) after its computer systems mysteriously stop working. Again, Homeland Security reiterated, “this is not a cyberattack”. Three different computer systems at critical infrastructure companies crash at the same time – a coincidence?
Other system outages across the United States
Days later America found that other systems experienced problems at the same time that NYSE, United Airlines, and WSJ went offline. The New York City subway system experienced stranded trains in stations and parts of Washington DC, Seattle, Indianapolis, and other areas of the country mysteriously lost power. In Texas, systems of major oil and gas companies in Houston and Colorado shut down unexpectedly while St. Louis detected a massive incoming cyberattack on their networks. Across the world, China suspended trading while their securities market melted. Despite serious incidents such as these normally requiring days, sometimes years to diagnose, and with no viable explanation for the cause of the outages, within an hour the talking heads at CNN reported:
“The Department of Homeland Security told CNN that there is no sign of malicious activity at the NYSE or with an earlier outage experienced by United Airlines. The FBI says it reached out to NYSE and “no further law enforcement action is needed at this time.”
Not everyone bought the story however. One reporter tweeted:
“Department of Homeland Security telling stupid Americans, “nothing to see here.” Yeah, and China, Russia hack USA at will. No Coincidences.”
Was America’s infrastructure hacked?
There are various theories floating around regarding the July 8 cyberattack. Here are the ones that bear merit.
Chinese retaliation or war gaming
It’s important to note that the system outages occurred while the Chinese market was experiencing a meltdown and a day after Hillary Clinton publicly acknowledged that China was actively hacking the United States. During the outages, major traffic from China was reported to be flowing into the country (at least one report indicates St. Louis, rumored to be home of a major NSA eavesdropping data collection facility, was the primary target). Some have theorized that the outages were a Chinese cyberattack either as retaliation for US meddling in their markets (expect a Khazarian Mafia article soon regarding this) or potentially a Chinese war game. Some even think it may have been the first salvo in a major upcoming cyberwar.
American war games gone bad
With Jade Helm 15 firing up the next week and President Obama announcing a “30 days to get your act together” computer security initiative, many believe the during the month of July 2015, the United States are conducting massive cyber military drills across the US infrastructure. Some believe that the July 8 system outages were a result of this exercise spilling beyond the “sandbox” it was intended to be contained within. If that were the case, it’s understandable why DHS would quickly disassociate the event with any sort of cyberattack.
Deliberate shutoff by NYSE
Others believe, at least related to the New York Stock Exchange outage, that the outage was intentional – the market was shutdown to prevent a massive selloff during the China stock market collapse. One reporter noted:
“I was also contacted by an individual who worked at the at Chicago Board Options Exchange for five years who is convinced that the shut down was not a “technical glitch” but a deliberate move on behalf of the Plunge Protection Team to prevent a massive sell off following China’s stock market collapse.”
Meanwhile, ABC News reported:
“Before trading was halted, U.S. indexes were lower as investors worried about China’s ability to stem a stock market slide.”
This of course, would be highly illegal – but then again, reaching over and unplugging a router is an easy “mistake” to make.