Saturday, February 5, 2011
FBI: Hackers Break IntoNASDAQ Computers
Hackers have repeatedly penetrated the computer network of the company that runs the Nasdaq Stock Market during the past year, and federal investigators are trying to identify the perpetrators and their purpose, according to people familiar with the matter cited by The Wall Street Journal in its Saturday edition.
The exchange's trading platform -- the part of the system that executes trades -- wasn't compromised, these people said. However, it couldn't be determined which other parts of Nasdaq's computer network were accessed.
Investigators are considering a range of possible motives, including unlawful financial gain, theft of trade secrets and a national-security threat designed to damage the exchange.
The Nasdaq situation has set off alarms within the government because of the exchange's critical role, which officials put right up with power companies and air-traffic-control operations, all part of the nation's basic infrastructure.
Other infrastructure components have been compromised in the past, including a case in which hackers planted potentially disruptive software programs in the US electrical grid, according to current and former national-security officials.
"So far, [the perpetrators] appear to have just been looking around," said one person involved in the Nasdaq matter.
Another person familiar with the case said the incidents were, for a computer network, the equivalent of someone sneaking into a house and walking around but -- apparently, so far -- not taking or tampering with anything.
A spokesman for Nasdaq declined to comment.
A probe into the matter was initiated by the Secret Service and now includes the FBI.
The mystery surrounding the hackers and their motives is worrying investigators, who remain unsure whether they have been able to plug all potential security gaps -- especially since invaders typically seek new ways to breach systems.
The case involving New York-based Nasdaq OMX Group Inc. is part of what cyber-crime authorities see as a broader problem of hackers nosing around corporate computer networks, with varying degrees of success.