The world saw an unusual number of suspicious economic events Wednesday – with the New York Stock Exchange coming to a grinding halt for four hours, hundreds of United Airlines flights grounded, Microsoft laying off 7,800 workers, Apple investors seeing $69 billion vanish and China suffering a financial meltdown.
The sequence of events has some speculating wildly: Are these indications of a cyber attack or even a global economy in distress?
As WND reported, the New York Stock Exchange came to a grinding halt Wednesday reportedly for a computer issue – just a couple hours after a similarly worded technical problem grounded hundreds of United Airlines flights in the nation and around the world. At the same time, the Wall Street Journal suffered technical difficulties at its site.
Upon hearing the news, U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., immediately suggested the situation appeared to be a cyber attack.
He tweeted: “Three major computer malfunctions on same day give appearance of an attack, serve as reminder Congress must pass a cybersecurity bill.”
As WND reported, an Egyptian official told WND his country had information indicating the exchange was hit by a cyber attack. However, the Egyptian official would not divulge any details, including the source of the intelligence. WND could not independently corroborate the information.
Some suggested China could be responsible for the NYSE troubles. In fact, the online security company Norse Intelligent Network’s real-time cyber attack map revealed China was the No. 1 attacker and the U.S. (especially, St. Louis, Missouri) was the top target on Wednesday:
Barrett Moore has founded a half-dozen companies in the technology, training and security fields to include Triple Canopy, one the nation’s leading security firms providing high-threat protection services to federal, state and multi-national clients.
“That’s something we monitor 24/7,” he told WND. “You can watch the level of attacks on any given day, and today was exceptional in terms of what we were seeing coming from China.”
Moore added it’s possible the data could be “spoofed” by another party to make it look like the attacks are coming from China. Nonetheless, Wednesday’s activity was highly unusual.
“If we look at the volume and frequency of attacks that were being launched at the United States today from China, they were exponentially much higher than we would normally see,” he said.
As WND reported, a Twitter account claiming to be run by the international cyberattack group, Anonymous, sent out a social media message a day earlier that gave rise to the question: Did Anonymous play a part in the computer-related chaos?
The Twitter message, posted Tuesday, stated: “Wonder if tomorrow is going to be bad for Wall Street. … We can only hope.”
The NYSE announced in a Twitter message that the “issue we are experiencing is an internal technical issue and is not the result of a cyber breach.” White House spokesman Josh Earnest said at an early afternoon press briefing: “There is no indication that malicious actors were involved.” And both the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission sent out messages saying that the NYSE disruption was due to a computer glitch and not an act of terrorism or a cyber attack.
Even so, others flocked to social media to share their ideas of what took place Wednesday. Some Twitter comments included:
- “Chinese retaliation for CIA tanking their stk mkt; which was retaliation for China US govt hack” – Bluetoon
- “The NYSE closes and united grounds all flights on the same day right after hillary said China was hacking us. So that’s fun” – Vinto Tinto
- “Conspiracy theory: What if the Sony hack was a test for actual attacks to come? WSJ, NYSE, UA part oof a larger cyber attack spectrum?” – PsyBaba
- “As China stock exchange takes a tumble & now NYSE has ‘glitch.’ Conspiracy theorist in me thinks possible cyber attack from China?” – Martyn Wallace
On Monday, terrorism expert Harvey Kushner told WND and Radio America that the most sensitive U.S. assets are at the mercy of any “hacker or cracker,” and the next major attack against the country would likely come through cyberspace.
Meanwhile, as the NYSE outage took place Wednesday, China’s markets were being hammered. The New York Times reported: In Shanghai, prices plunged 5.9 percent. In Shenzhen, they fell 2.5 percent. the damage is also spreading regionally, to Hong Kong and Japan, where shares also fell sharply.”
The U.S. won’t be adversely impacted by troubles in China, America’s second-largest trade partner.
At least that’s according to Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, who told the Washington-based Brookings Institution on Wednesday: “China’s markets are still pretty much separated from world markets. They’re obviously moving toward being more integrated, but right now they’re not so. … I don’t think you’re going to see the direct linkage there.”
Adding to the chaos Wednesday came news that the Federal Reserve has decided not to increase interest rates because it fears fallout from the troubles in Greece and China.
On Wednesday, the head of France’s central bank warned of serious consequences if Greece fails to make a bailout deal this week.
Christian Noyer told French radio: “The Greek economy is on the edge of catastrophe. A deal absolutely must be found on Sunday because it will be too late after that and the consequences will be serious.”
If there’s not a deal, he said, “there could be riots … and chaos in the country.”
Also in the U.S. on Wednesday, USA Today reported that shares of Apple have declined so steeply that the company has seen $69 billion in market value disappear since April 28.
Also, in the last week, WND reported that the Obama administration’s rosy unemployment numbers for June were not the result of a recovering economy creating full-time jobs but a product of manipulating statistics for political purposes. The drop in unemployment from 5.5 percent in May to 5.3 percent in June actually reflected 375,000 unemployed workers disappearing from the workforce.
And in Puerto Rico, there was news that the U.S. territory cannot pay the $72 billion it owes in debt, partly because the island is subject to the U.S. government-mandated $7.25 an hour minimum wage.
Investor’s Business Daily reports that America’s economic outlook has fallen to a 10-month low, according to its latest poll.
The IBD/TIPP Economic Optimism Index has dropped to 48.1 in July, down from 49.7 in May.
“Americans are split on their assessment of current economic conditions – 48% think it is improving, while 49% think it is not,” said Raghavan Mayur, president of IBD polling partner TechnoMetrica. “The stock market is also under pressure.”
According to IBD, “The Six-Month Outlook Index fell for a third straight month, sinking 0.8 points to 44.5. That’s the lowest since last September.”