Hackers in new bid to crash HKEx site

PUBLISHED : Friday, 12 August, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 12 August, 2011, 12:00am

Computer hackers yesterday made a second attempt to crash the Hong Kong stock exchange's regulatory disclosure website.

It came just a day after hackers crashed the site and forced the suspension of trading in shares of seven firms with a combined market value of HK$1.5 trillion, including HSBC Holdings.

Hong Kong police say they suspect that offshore hackers, including some from Asia, are behind the attacks.

Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing (HKEx) said hackers managed to crash the website on Wednesday, but failed in a subsequent attempt yesterday. The site is used to display company announcements.

As a precaution, HKEx said it had introduced new methods of disclosing company information.

Police said they would seek help overseas to investigate the cases if necessary. No one has been arrested.

'The hackers adopted a mixture of attacking techniques to intentionally interrupt the operation of HKExnews' website,' Bill Chow Tang-bill, chief technology officer of HKEx, told a briefing on the attack. 'The malicious traffic originated from a network of hundreds of personal computers, most of which were based outside Hong Kong,' Chow said.

HKEx chief executive Charles Li Xiaojia (pictured) said Wednesday's attack affected only the disclosure website, not the trading system -which can only be accessed by brokers. No trading information or money was lost, and there was no attempt to blackmail the exchange. But he said the attacks highlighted the fact that investors now relied heavily on the HKExnews website for company news. 'The exchange will use newspaper advertisements, e-mails and third-party websites to make investors aware of company news,' Li said.

Stocks were suspended on Wednesday because the seven firms attempted to make announcements of price-sensitive information during the lunchtime trading break, which investors may not have seen due to the hacking incident.

From today, the exchange will buy newspaper advertising space to alert investors to which companies will have result announcements. It also plans to start e-mailing brokers and media to alert them when companies have put up announcements on their own websites.

After Wednesday's crash, the exchange was forced to suspend trading in shares of the seven firms, which included HKEx itself. The website is used to display information on more than 1,400 listed companies and over 5,000 warrants.

Stocks resumed trading yesterday after a back-up website, bulletinboard.hk, was launched.

Chim Pui-chung, legislator for the financial services sector, opposed the HKEx decision to suspend shares, saying it should review its technology to prevent a recurrence.

However, Li defended the suspension.


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