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Nasdaq admits hackers planted malware on web portal

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Nasdaq admitted on Saturday that unidentified hackers had succeeded in planting malware on one of its portals.

The US stock exchange is keen to stress that trading systems were not affected by suspicious files found on Directors Desk, a web-based dashboard application used by an estimated 10,000 execs worldwide. In a statement, Nasdaq said that there was no evidence that customer information had been exposed by breach.

The stock exchange had been asked to stay quiet about the attackers by DoJ investigators until at least 14 February, but it was obliged to go public earlier than planned after the Wall Street Journal broke the story last weekend. Nasdaq has begun the process of notifying customers about the security snafu, which was detected internally by its security screening systems.

Evil hackers subverting stock exchanges for their own gain has been a popular theme of haxploitation flicks for years. However, in reality, one of the few confirmed breaches of any stock exchange happened when a Russian Trading System was compromised by malware back in 2006, notes net security firm Sophos.

It adds that it is likely that the Directors Desk hack was designed to plant malware on the systems of users via drive-by-download attacks.

Late last month, it emerged that the London Stock Exchange and one of its counterparts in the US were in the process of investigating possible hacking attacks. Investigators are assessing whether a collapse in the trading price of five firms last summer might be explained by a breach in the open-source trading system used by the LSE. Officials had previously blamed the entry of incorrect prices for the snafu. An unnamed US exchange is also reportedly in the process of investigating a similar attack. ®

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