A few weeks ago, we saw a series of high profile computer system failures, all within a few hours of each other. United Airlines suffered a system outage, creating chaos for its passengers and disrupting travel schedules. A few hours later, the New York Stock Exchange had to close for half of the trading day due to ‘technical problems’. Soon after the Wall Street Journal’s (WSJ) website crashed due to server issues, perhaps due to a huge number of service requests by the people that turned to the WSJ to find out what was wrong with the NYSE.
The first conclusions of the causes were quickly made. It was a coordinated campaign of cyber attacks executed by governments that the US has less friendly relationships with, said some. No, cybercriminals had penetrated the exchange systems to steal data, manipulate value or extort the NYSE, believed others. Wrong, it was just a coincidental series of separate computer glitches, stated the more down-to-earth.
Whatever the causes were, the world will see more incidents like this. Why? We’re not only more dependent on our connectivity and systems than ever before, there is also just so much infrastructure now that at any given time something will be breaking down somewhere. Does it matter?
Yes, for those directly involved the glitches can be damaging damaging. Everybody hates to be stranded in an airport. And not being able to trade can cause financial repercussions. But in wider society, everything just continued. Wall Street may see itself as the center of the universe, but these latest incidents show that the world keeps turning, even when trading and investing come to a halt.
But we should not relax. The struggle for reliable and resilient networks and systems is never over.
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