The London Stock Exchange (LSE) has reportedly been investigating a suspected cyber attack on its systems designed to disrupt and spread panic across the markets.
A report in The Times is short on detail, but the paper has been told by "well-placed intelligence sources" that the LSE is currently trying to find the source of the attack.
A cyber security expert is quoted as saying: "The threat is advanced and persistent."
High-profile security experts have long warned about the risk to the UK's critical national infrastructure from cyber attacks.
McAfee's most recent Virtual Criminology report, for example, urged public and private sector organisations to collaborate more effectively to ensure that critical national infrastructures can withstand any cyber warfare attacks.
GCHQ director Iain Lobban said last year that worms have already been designed to cause significant disruption to government systems, while former White House security advisor Richard Clarke told the RSA Conference Europe that the US and UK are woefully underprepared for an attack on critical infrastructure.
Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at Sophos, argued that important infrastructure like stock exchanges should be "properly hardened against attacks ".
"I feel that 2011 is the year when political and economic motivation for cyber attacks will become more and more obvious, especially as we've seen folks volunteering to become 'hacktivists' in recent DDoS attacks," he said.
Uri Rivner, head of new technologies at RSA Security speculated that the attack may have been an inside job.
"Attacks on secluded networks often use USB devices or components shipped to the datacentre that already carry a Trojan," he said.
"Fraudsters can have an insider plug USBs into on-site computers or just drop an infected USB in the headquarters, as usually someone is bound to pick the USB up, if only to identify who it belongs to."
V3.co.uk was waiting to hear back from the London Stock Exchange at the time of writing.
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