It involves an unspecified “technical issue” but that’s all they’re saying as I write this near noon on the east coast. Coincidentally, United Airlines had to ground all of its flights worldwide earlier this morning due to a “network connectivity issue.” (Flights have since resumed.) Also coincidentally, the country that’s the prime suspect in the massive OPM theft of U.S. personnel records has been suffering a mysterious multi-day stock market collapse this week with hundreds of companies suspending trading lately to stem the losses.
Odds that this really is just a bunch of coincidences: 90 percent. Odds that the cyberwar has finally begun in earnest: 10 percent. Stand by for exciting updates!
Update: From Business Insider:
Hunsader added that what we’re seeing is likely a gateway issue, as some routs are simply not working. It’s possible that this was caused by a system upgrade or some other kind of software update.
The Journal notes that a “technical glitch” was noted earlier this morning before trading opened at 9:30 but was supposedly resolved.
Update: For what it’s worth:
2 U.S. Officials tell NBC's Pete Williams that there are no signs of a cyber attack at NYSE. And no signs that United and NYSE are linked.
— Tom Winter (@Tom_Winter) July 8, 2015
Update: With respect to the cyberwar theory, NASDAQ’s still humming along as of 12:18 p.m. so either their defenses are better than NYSE’s or there’s no comprehensive attack happening here. On the other hand, expert consensus is that the Chinese market downturn is an especially dicey development given how ChiCom leadership is likely to view it as not just an economic threat but a national security threat. And a jittery leadership is a leadership that might be more likely to lash out:
The first major sign that all wasn’t going according to script came on June 15. Chinese had awakened expecting big gains because it was President Xi Jinping’s birthday, but the Shanghai market fell more than 2%. One deeply indebted day trader committed suicide by jumping out a window, his net worth wiped out by the collapse of a single stock that he had borrowed heavily to purchase. The market has since fallen by another 25%—and some fear that prices could go much lower.
In most countries, no one thinks there is a link between a leader’s birthday and the market. That such a theory prevails in China reflects the widespread belief that Beijing’s authoritarian government can produce any economic outcome it wants. Now trust in China’s ability to command and control the economy is faltering. If trust collapses, the global repercussions could be more severe than those from the Greek debt crisis.
Update: Another strike against the cyberwar theory. Marc Ambinder says United’s problem was a router issue:
— Marc Ambinder (@marcambinder) July 8, 2015
Sean Davis counters that the router theory is laughable.
Update: It’s not a cyberattack says NYSE.
(1 of 3) The issue we are experiencing is an internal technical issue and is not the result of a cyber breach.
— NYSE 🏛 (@NYSE) July 8, 2015
Probably true, but what incentive would they have to announce it if it were a cyberattack? There’s no way out of that conspiratorial rabbit hole, but with something as shadowy as cyberwarfare, people are bound to wonder.
Update: Sounds like Obama has met China’s demands and the market can now reopen. Whew!