As Albert Einstein stated, “Coincidence is God’s way of remaining anonymous.”
All three outages came one after another: one of the nation’s biggest airlines, its largest financial news publication and its main stock exchange. But were they really ‘glitches’ or were they something more serious?
The New York Stock Exchange said their troubles were due to a technical issue – adding it was not the result of a cyber-breach.
“The issue we are experiencing is an internal technical issue and is not the result of a cyber-breach,” a statement said. “We chose to suspend trading on NYSE to avoid problems arising from our technical issue. NYSE-listed securities continue to trade unaffected on other market centers.”
In response, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said at an early afternoon press briefing: “There is no indication that malicious actors were involved.”
Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson also tried to allay fears, saying, “It appears from what we know at this stage that the malfunctions at United and at the stock exchange were not the result of any nefarious actor.”
He added, “We know less about the Wall Street Journal at this point except that their system is back up again as is the United Airline system.”
The Wall Street Journal’s homepage displayed an ‘Error 504’ message meaning it was suffering from a satellite-link outage. Prior to Wall Street’s problems, United put a hold on international flights for two hours due to what the airline later claimed to be “an issue with a router.”
Senator Barbara Mikulski of Maryland confronted FBI Director James Comey saying, “I don’t believe in coincidences. Is the FBI investigating these as breaches?”
“We’re not big believers in coincidence either,” Comey replied, “We’ve been in contact with all three companies to see what’s going on. We don’t see a connection to a cyber-breach or cyber-attack.”
But there’s at least one possibility missed among the various headlines. At 11:45 p.m., the night before the NYSE experienced a shutdown of trading; the hacker group Anonymous left a cryptic message on Twitter: “Wonder if tomorrow is going to be bad for Wall Street…we can only hope.”
Move along – nothing to see here.