On July 8, a whirlwind of gut wrenching gasps could be heard as the Stock Market suffered a temporary freeze when a glitch halted trading at the NYSE at 11:32 a.m. The NYSE reopened at 3:10 as a result of the alleged glitch. A spokesperson from the exchange, Marissa Arnold could not specify the details of the hitch, but said, “the issue was an internal issue and not the result of a cyber breach.” The technical halt left hundreds of frustrated traders on the stock exchange floor clueless and handcuffed and forced to look at blank trading terminals where billion dollar bids and sales usually flock.
This was the fourth trading disruption at the NYSE caused by technical problems in the last 15 years. Just two years ago NASDAQ was struck by a flash freeze that unexpectedly halted trading on the electronic exchange for 3 hours. NASDAQ officials thought that high frequency trading could have been the cause of the stock market freeze but it was not the case. The Stock Market glitch did not just freeze the NYSE, it smacked the entire financial universe with a bona-fide wake up call. Hackers were not to blame for the halt, but they were definitely lingering in the minds of the distressed traders at the stock market who wheel and deal billions of dollars through their software.
Gary Kaltbaum, president of the N.Y. Money Management Firm said,”Let’s not hope it is a hack. If they can do this to the NYSE, what about our banking systems or our electric grid?” The question is not how? But eventually when will cyber hackers attack? On the same day that the NYSE was halted, the airline juggernaut United Airlines also experienced suspicious glitches in their flight plans. A computer problem in the airlines reservation system caused the FAA to impose a ground stop at 8:26 ET, preventing flights to take off. The glitch affected airline software that automates United Airlines operations. The FAA stated that,”its failure that shows just how sensitive computerized companies are nowadays.”United flights are running despite having over 4,900 delays and suspensions due to the cyber hiccups. Jeh Johnson, the Homeland Security Chief, reassured the public that “United’s outage was not connected to the computer problem that disrupted the NYSE.”
United Airlines also said, “a faulty router that interfered with its reservation system was to blame for the delays,” but really few details on what caused the stock market meltdown have been released. The Stock Market glitch that can freeze a financial juggernaut like the NYSE, can also play the hero. The freeze allowed many skittish traders to invest heavily in cyber security companies that soared during the day. There are rules and regulations that always keep the dollars flowing no matter what monkey wrench or cyber hiccup has to offer. The stock market is made aware that a trading halt is coming to an end, either at the same time the halt ends or a few minutes before. The only real losers are the unlucky traders who decide to use the restroom while the warnings were posted. The NYSE will commence business as usual with the traditional ring of the bell, along with many plentiful silent prayers.
By Phillip Hernandez
USA Today Money: NYSE Trading Resumes After Nearly Four Hour Halt
Finra: When Trading Stops: What You Need to Know About Halts, Suspensions and Other Interruptions
CNN Money: United Flights Resume After Computer Problem
Photo Courtesy of David Blakie’s Flickr Page- Creative Commons License