Yesterday the global financial market had a horrifying scare when the NASDAQ was inaccessible and offline for three hours Thursday. The shutdown didn’t happen because people were worried about a terrorist attack, nor was it shut down because of some sort of national emergency. A “minor” computer error put the entire system on lockdown, and now people across the industry are worried about the security of one of the most crucial financial systems on the planet.
A three hour shut down may not seem like that big of a deal to you, but you need to keep in mind that the NASDAQ is the second biggest American market operator and is the trading home for 3,200 companies across 37 nations. The mistake was so serious that President Barack Obama was notified of the shutdown shortly after it occurred, and now SEC chairman Mary Joe White wants to meet with exchange leaders in Washington to discuss vulnerabilities in the system. Their alarm may seem suspicious, but they have a good reason to scramble the finance troops. If a minor computer error was able to shut down the NASDAQ for a few hours, imagine what skilled hackers could do.
The IT specialists at the stock exchange are probably in for some trouble, but most people have their pitchforks and torches aimed at the NASDAQ’s chief executive Robert Greifeld. Some people still haven’t forgiven Greifeld over last year’s Facebook IPO disaster, and this news has only added more fuel to the “Greifeld sucks” fire. People are upset that Greifeld wasn’t reachable when people first noticed the trouble on the trading floor. To be fair, Greifeld wasn’t available since he was at a wake in New Jersey, but for some death isn’t an excuse for not doing your job. Greifeld attempted to do damage control on CNBC and Bloomberg TV this morning, but people still feel like they didn’t get a reasonable explanation for the catastrophic shut down.
It’s very likely that there will be more news about IT security issues in the stock market, and even more likely that Greifeld will do something to embarrass himself even more. All you can do now is sit back, relax, and watch the financial sector have a good old fashioned freak out.