Nasdaq Hacked for Fun and/or Profit

So the Nasdaq got hacked. Over the weekend, news of a hacker attack on the Nasdaq stock exchange began gathering steam. On Saturday, The Wall Street Journal reported the cybernetic tresspassing, saying the stakes were high: “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.”

An attack on the nation’s basic infrastructure is pretty scary, so it was comforting when a spokesperson told AFP that neither customer service nor trading appeared to have been hit. Rather, hackers went after  Nasdaq’s Director’s Desk software, which helps directors at big companies share information related to board meetings. Why would they do that? A subsequent Wall Street Journal report gives us a hint:

The fact that the Web-based service, called Directors Desk, was penetrated could lend credence to one theory that law-enforcement authorities investigating the matter are considering, namely that hackers may be aiming to extract nonpublic inside information that could be used illegally to gain a trading edge.

Insider trading! Although it’s unclear what exactly the hackers were after, one thing is clear: short-term trades in the stock market are not for guys with a Strategy Desk in the basement office or the babies in Super Bowl commercials. Faster, smarter and less scrupulous people are out there to take money from those people. Just stop trying, everyone. Give up (unless you’re hackers).

mtaylor [at] | @mbrookstaylor