Little known to the general public, the Nasdaq Stock Market’s computer network has been repeatedly hacked over the past year, leaving federal investigators scrambling to locate the perpetrators and determine their purpose.
Sources close the information told the Wall Street Journal that the actual trading platform that executes trades was not affected in the hack, but rather, parts of the Nasdaq’s network was indeed compromised.
Possible motives range from unlawful financial gain, theft of trade secrets and national securities threats designed to damage the exchange.
The exchange affects almost every aspect of the US governments, ranging from power companies, air-traffic-control operations, and the nation’s basic infrastructure.
"So far, [the perpetrators] appear to have just been looking around," confirmed one source involved in the matter.
Tom Kellermann, a former computer security official at the World Bank who now works at a firm called Core Security Technologies, said that financial institutions are a particularly appealing target for advanced hackers.
"Many sophisticated hackers don't immediately try to monetize the situation; they oftentimes do what's called local information gathering, almost like collecting intelligence, to ascertain what would be the best way in the long term to monetize their presence."
Although Nasdaq reps officially declined to comment, Ray Pellecchia, a spokesman for NYSE Euronext, a company that operates the New York Stock Exchange said, "We take any potential threat seriously and we are continually working to ensure that our systems operate at the highest levels of security and integrity."
Authorities are working to maintain the reliability of computerized trading and ensure investors faith in the system.