Exchange CEOs say they are on high alert over cyber security

Thu Mar 13, 2014 2:08pm EDT
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By John McCrank

BOCA RATON, Florida (Reuters) - Cyber security is emerging as one of the biggest threats for exchange operators as hackers become more sophisticated in their efforts to disrupt the global financial system, a group of exchange leaders told an industry conference.

More than half of the world's exchanges were hit by cyber attacks in 2012, according to a paper released last year by the World Federation of Exchanges Office and the research department of the International Organization of Securities Commissions.

"We are worried a lot and we are far more worried now than we were just a couple of years ago," Magnus Bocker, chief executive of Singapore Exchange Ltd, said during a panel discussion at the Futures Industry Association conference in Boca Raton, Florida on Wednesday.

Bocker said spending on cyber security is on the rise, but said exchanges need to do a better job of sharing information with each other on effective ways of combating cyber criminals.

At Nasdaq OMX Group, the number of cyber attacks aimed at disrupting the exchange's online network actually fell by 30 percent to 35 percent in the latter half of 2013, possibly due to a thawing of relations between the United States and Iran, Chief Executive Officer Robert Greifeld said. That said, Nasdaq is not letting its guard down, he added.

"You obviously have to be very vigilant and you will never be secure and you have to walk around paranoid," he said.

Nasdaq has been adding former military and government security experts to its cyber security team, as well as working closely with the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation to identify potential threats, Greifeld said.

Cyber criminals targeted Nasdaq's community forum website last July and gained access to the email user names and passwords of the members of the site, which took two days to come back online. In 2010, hackers infiltrated the exchange's computer systems and installed software that allowed them to spy on the directors of publicly held companies, Reuters reported.   Continued...

Taxi cabs drive past the Nasdaq MarketSite in New York's Times Square, August 23, 2013. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly