Sunday, February 13, 2011

Chairman Bachus Asks SEC and CFTC to Report on the Integrity of Stock and Futures Exchanges in Light of NASDAQ Hacking

In a letter to SEC Chair Mary Schapiro and CFTC Chair Gary Gensler, House Financial Services Committee Chair Spencer Bachus (R-ALA) requested information regarding the protocols in place to ensure the integrity of the equity and commodity trading systems at various exchanges. The request was triggered by reports that hackers repeatedly penetrated the computer network of the company that runs the NASDAQ Stock Exchange. The letter was also signed by Capital Markets Subcommittee Chairman Scott Garrett (R-NJ). The letter was also sent to the heads of the major stock and futures exchanges.

The House leaders are troubled by news that the NASDAQ Stock Market’s computer network has been repeatedly penetrated during the past year. While it was reassuring that NASDAQ systems containing the trading platform and confidential customer information were not compromised, they noted, any breach of the computer system of an exchange or clearinghouse must be taken seriously because of their important role in the financial infrastructure.

At a time when investor confidence remains fragile, they noted, the hacking of a network that contains nonpublic inside, material information that could be used illegally to gain a trading advantage is especially disconcerting. The letter emphasized that it is imperative that there be global confidence in the technological security of US financial markets. To that end, and without divulging specific network security protocols, the legislators want a report, by February 28, on what is being done to ensure the ongoing integrity and security of exchange trading systems and clearinghouses in response to these reports.