The chief executive of the Hong Kong stock exchange has said that a website outage that took place earlier today appears to have been "the result of a malicious attack by outside hacking", the Financial Times has reported.
At first, Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Ltd (HKEx) attributed the outage simply to "technical problems". It reassured customers that its trading platform had not been affected.
As a precautionary measure, the company suspended trading of shares in companies that were due to make significant announcements on the website during the day. These included HSBC and HKex itself, which reported its financial results shortly after the outage. CEO Charles Li made the hacking claim during the company’s results presentation.
Like many high profile organisations, stock exchanges are reportedly targeted by hackers on a frequent basis.
In January, the Times newspaper quoted an unnamed security expert as saying that the London Stock Exchange had fallen victim to a major cyber attack in 2010, and the EU’s carbon trading system was shut down after credits worth €7 million were stolen by hackers. In February, a document transfer system operated by NASDAQ was also breached.
But, like any business using IT, stock exchanges can also suffer more mundane glitches. In April, a Hong Kong-based stock trading website operated by HSBC bungled various transactions. It was the third time the platform had been struck by glitches in less than a year.