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Pentagon fears hackers could crash the stock market

The US Department of Defense is concerned that hackers could take down the US financial system and is working with Wall Street traders to figure out a way to protect against the threat.
The Pentagon’s research arm, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), is consulting with dozens of traders and quantitative hedge fund managers to understand the extent of the damage hackers could cause to the US financial system, the Wall Street Journal reports.

DARPA has spent the last year and a half consulting with executives from a range of financial companies in what has been described as an early-stage pilot project to identity market vulnerabilities.

The project is unclassified and DARPA confirmed its details to the WSJ. It’s called the Financial Markets Vulnerabilities Project.



“We started thinking a couple years ago what it would be like if a malicious actor wanted to cause havoc on our financial markets,” DARPA program manager Wade Shen told the newspaper.

In September, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) admitted hackers accessed its corporate disclosure database in 2016 and may have made a profit from the insider information it stole. The SEC had patched the vulnerability in 2016, but only became aware of the trading in August.

The informal sessions involve brainstorming scenarios where hackers try to bring down the market, participants said.

Some of the possibilities include hackers taking down a payroll system, manipulating trading algorithms and flooding the market with fake orders to sell stock, which could lead to a market crash. Credit card companies and payment processors have been identified as potential targets..



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