Computer hackers strike again as HKEx breached

Four company announcements released on stock exchange website cancelled after a printer mix-up

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 14 August, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 14 August, 2012, 7:51pm

A computer-hacking attack on a printing company has led to mix-ups with four company announcements released on the stock exchange's website on Sunday.

A Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing spokesperson said the problem was due to an attack on a printer which provides services preparing the announcements and uploading the filings.

In August last year, computer hackers attacked the HKEx company announcements website, cutting investors' access to company news. That prompted the bourse to suspend seven companies, including blue chips such as HSBC and the HKEx itself that were making transactions or results announcements in the exchange's lunch break. It also suspended 419 derivatives linked to the stocks, and trading only resumed the following day after a back-up website was set up. This time, the bourse's system had not faced any attack itself. "We will work with the printer to see if any improvements could be made," the spokesman said yesterday. No complaints were received from the investors.

The incidents involve announcements that appeared on the HKEx website, the content of which was accurate, but mistakenly linked to other companies' headlines.

An announcement under the Natural Dairy (NZ) Holdings headline, for example, was linked to an announcement of a transaction by G-Prop (Holdings), while another Natural Dairy headline linked to an announcement of Lijun International Pharmaceutical Holding. A G-Prop headline linked to a drafted result announcement of Lijun while another G-Prop announcement linked to a draft document of listing candidate Accelera Yacht Holdings.

The exchange spokesman said the printer informed the exchange about the mistakes on Sunday night and the bourse cancelled the four announcements yesterday morning. Lijun suspended trading as its draft result was mistakenly posted.

"The incident shows there is a need to tighten control on printers," said Kenny Lee Yiu-sun, chief executive of First China Securities. "We are lucky that this time it involves only a small number of companies, but who knows what may happen next time. The HKEx and the Securities and Futures Commission should also work on how to prevent hackers attacking the financial market," he said.