NYSE Shutdown Isn’t Just A Glitch, It’s A Glimpse Into Our Chaotic Future

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By LAUREN C. WILLIAMS, ThinkProgress

The digital sky is officially falling as the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) suddenly shut down all trading activity Wednesday, raising speculation of a major technical glitch or a malicious cyberattack.

The exchange is experiencing an unexplained “critical issue,” according to alerts on the NYSE website, and stocks are tumbling fast. The NYSE hasn’t provided any additional information regarding the cause of the unexpected trading suspension. Technical issues have affected NYSE trading and market data multiple times since June, but were ultimately resolved.

“We’re currently experiencing a technical issue that we’re working to resolve as quickly as possible,” the NYSE wrote in a statement. We will be providing further updates as soon as we can, and are doing our utmost to produce a swift resolution, communicate thoroughly and transparently, and ensure a timely and orderly market re-open.”

Shutdown of the New York exchange comes as the world collectively experiences a variety of serious cyber incidents. Early Wednesday, the Federal Aviation Administration grounded all United Airlines flights across the globe for two hours because of an “automation issue.” That glitch affected nearly 5,000 flights. Officials said there’s no evidence so far connecting NYSE’s and United’s technical difficulties or indicating they are the result of a breach.

The Wall Street Journal website crashed after news broke of NYSE trading stalled. The financial media stalwart is working to get the site fully functioning.

Meanwhile, chaos continued pummeling China’s stock markets, spreading panic as a meltdown looms over the world’s second economic superpower. The Chinese government attempted to tame the country’s volatile markets by instructing companies to buy shares, which would raise the amount insurers can invest and limit further market decline. State-run companies have halted trading after government measures failed to keep the market stable last week. The index has dropped 30 percent since June.

Moreover, the developers who discovered the massive Heartbleed bug that exposed personal information stored on two-thirds of the world’s websites last year uncovered another similarly severe security flaw. Like Heartbleed, the currently nameless new security bug affects 66 percentof all websites and is located in an open-source security protocol. The bug allows hackers to shut down sites and disable encryption.

While these serious and disruptive technical issues are probably independent from one another, they’re likely going to keep happening as social functions become more intertwined and reliant on automated technology.

UPDATE 3:01 PM

Trading has resumed and are on schedule, the New York Stock Exchange reported Wednesday in an alert.

“NYSE and NYSE MKT are planning to resume trading on the following schedule. Based on consultation with the industry, trading will resume without a re-opening auction,” the alert stated.

Closing auctions will also continue per usual. All systems are back online and functioning normally except the Openbook feed for primary markets, which will remain offline through Wednesday.

Reprinted with permission from Think Progress, a branch of The Center for American Progress