The world’s best-known radical hacker group, Anonymous, may have claimed responsibility for the July 8 shutdown of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) a day before it happened.
In fact, all of Wednesday’s so-called computer glitches – including at United Airlines – likely were due to a cyberattack, says cybersecurity pioneer John McAfee.
A Tweet from Anonymous may have predicted the problem that halted trading on America’s main stock exchange for three and a half hours.
“Wonder if tomorrow is going to be bad for Wall Street…. we can only hope,” a message sent from YourAnonNews, a Twitter account known to be used by Anonymous members reads. It was sent at 9:45 p.m. on Tuesday, July 7.
YourAnonNews claims to be a “Signal boost for Anonymous operations, resistance movements, & journalism,” The Independent reported.
Trading on stocks halted at 11:32 a.m. Eastern on July 8 because of what stock exchange officials labeled an unknown technical problem. Trading continued on other exchanges such as the NASDAQ and on NYSE-listed shares through other venues such as online brokerages. The International Business Times estimated that traders lost around $400 million because of the shutdown.
At about the same time, the website of The Wall Street Journal crashed and in airports, a “network connectivity issue” left tens of thousands of United Airlines passengers stranded.
They all were blamed on computer glitches, and any possibility of a cyberattack was rejected, but not everyone is buying that explanation. McAfee wrote a column for The International Business Times in which he blamed all three on a coordinated cyberattack – despite what Homeland Security claims.
“If these events were truly random and independent, then the frequency of all three of these events happening on the same day is once in a billion days (or if you prefer to count in years, almost 2.8 million years),” McAfee wrote. “Coincidental failure is possible, sure, but it does seem highly unlikely.”
A small group of people linked to Anonymous were congratulating themselves for the attack on the Dark Web, McAfee wrote. The Dark Web is the section of the Internet not indexed by search engines like Google. It is not accessible with standard web browsers and is often used by hackers to communicate. McAfee was the pioneer cybersecurity expert who started the popular antivirus company McAfee Inc.
“It is more likely that your car, using quantum probability effects, would leak out of your garage and show up instantly in my driveway an ocean away,” McAfee said. “It is certainly possible, but no one in their right mind would bet on it. … What interests me here is not so much the cyberattack itself, but the official reaction to it. I do not believe that the NYSE and Homeland Security purposely attempted to deceive the public. I believe that incompetence led them to their conclusions.”
Anonymous is a loosely organized worldwide network of hackers and activists that often launches politically motivated cyberattacks on government agencies, religious groups and corporations
McAfee said Americans should worry most about incompetence within companies and governments than of cyberattacks, although the two are related. He noted that the US Office of Personnel Management was hacked for an entire year before anyone noticed.
“What should concern us most?” he asked. “The fact that hackers can infiltrate whatever they want and do whatever they want whenever they feel like it? Or the fact that our governing bodies and corporate and financial managers are clueless about the cyber age in which they are living? The latter, by far, frightens me the most.”
Do you believe Wednesday’s glitches were innocent or the result of a cyberattack? Share your thoughts in the section below: