Cyber Attacks Forced New Zealand’s Stock Exchange to Halt Trading

Cyber attacks forced New Zealand’s stock exchange to suspend trading for the third time in as many days as Thursday, its operator said Thursday, just as the country’s corporate reporting season is set to begin.

The New Zealand Exchange (NZX) said the stock exchange was put in a trading halt at approximately 11.10am local time “because of network connectivity issues related to DDoS cybersecurity attacks.”

A distributed denial of service attack — commonly known as a “dee-dos” or DDoS —- involves disrupting computer networks by flooding traffic into them.

As a result, temporary trading stops were called, added a spokesman told AFP, with the market dropping from 3.57pm to 5 pm on Tuesday and again from 11.24pm to 3 pm on Wednesday.

The website of the exchange also crashed as a result of the cyber-attacks that experts believe were likely to have originated offshore.

The spokesperson said the NZX would not comment on their roots, “given the complexity of the problems.”

“This decision to not re-open was taken as we focused on coping with the crisis,” NZX said in a statement Thursday.

“We keep reviewing the danger and consulting with experts on cybersecurity, and we are doing everything we can to resume normal trade tomorrow.”

The disruption of the industry comes as the companies announce their first annual coronavirus pandemic tests.

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The latest trade halt came just hours after Air New Zealand reported an annual net loss of approximately US$ 300 million, as demand plummeting battered it.

The Financial Markets Authority, which oversees the stock exchange, said that over the issue it remained in “close contact” with the NZX.

A spokesman said the Financial Markets Regulator had been given assurances that the cyber attacks “have not breached any internal systems, and trading information has not been violated.”

“In the circumstances, the FMA supports NZX ‘s decisions to suspend trading, for times when issuers are unable to release market information and investors are unable to access data on nzx.com,” he said in a statement.

“We ‘re going to continue working with NZX and the relevant government agencies to help where we can.”

Although such cyber attacks are not common in New Zealand, in the first half of this year government agency CERT NZ recorded a 42 percent increase in documented cybersecurity incidents, with the most frequently targeted sector being finance.

The agency said finance firms had received extortion emails in November claiming to be from the Russian group Fancy Bear / Cozy Bear requesting a ransom to prevent attacks by DDoS.

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