London Stock Exchange cyber attacks should be no surprise

When the London Stock Exchange (LSE) went caput early November last year there were whispers of sabotage. A report in The Times suggests that, yes, there was dirty work afoot.

“Make no mistake, the UK’s critical infrastructure is under attack. The threat is advanced and persistent,” an insecurity expert said to The Times. You may or may not remember other stories on TechEye last year which suggested that it’s not just that we have been under attack, rather that we are constantly under attack: and only some of what you hear about, the tip of the iceberg, will surface in reports. 

Distributed Denial of Service attacks have, in particular, been in the news thanks to the efforts of Anonymous and anti-Anonymous groups over the Wikileaks support fiasco. It is a relatively easy attack to perform and, as we reported, if there is a common cause summoning the collective outrage of any particular group to download a program and point it at a target can wreak havoc. 

Similarly, a cyber security expect with clearance at high levels revealed to us that Western governments have long been considering cyber warfare. “You would be a fool,” our deepthroat said to us, “to think that governments are not considering the applications for cyber warfare.”

Another confirmed that attacks on hospitals and power grids are likely. “Hospitals and other medical facilities operate under a very different regulatory framework than in other industries.”

If that’s the case – is it any wonder that “hacktivists” working through some far-flung proxy may be launching attacks on stock exchanges? After all – this is the heart of financial activity. 

Last year, the US government’s Homeland Security secretary thought a return to the Mutually Aided Destruction, or M.A.D model of the cold war, makes sense in cyberspace.

Michael Chertoff believes that world governments need to work on technologies to ward off attacks from elsewhere. Indeed – India was the first country to publicly take a step in geopolitical cyber defence. It announced that it has been gathering homegrown talent with the capabilities to fight off attacks – and more crucially, go on the offensive, too

Should we be alarmed? Maybe – the world is increasingly moving toward data as one of its greatest assets as the digital revolution keeps our money in computerised stocks and numbers over bullion. But should we be surprised? Probably not. The Times’ scoop is that it has confirmed attacks have happened. They were probably only a few of many.