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  • Trading activity in New Zealand's stock exchange was halted for a second consecutive day as "mafia style" hackers targeted the country's stock market with a cyber attack, authorities confirmed.
  • The stock exchange said in a statement that it faced a "volumetric distributed denial of service" attack from offshore via its network service provider. 
  • The attack has now been dealt with and NZX resumed market operations on Wednesday afternoon. 
  • Speaking to Radio New Zealand, Auckland University of Technology Professor Dave Parry said that the attack was likely carried out by a "mafia type" gang of hackers.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Trading activity in New Zealand's stock exchange was halted for a second consecutive day as "mafia style" hackers targeted the country's stock market with a cyber attack, authorities confirmed.

The New Zealand Stock Exchange said in a pair of statements Wednesday that the exchange was targeted by hackers on both Tuesday and Wednesday, and faced a "volumetric distributed denial of service" (DDoS) attack from offshore via its network service provider. 

"The systems impacted included NZX websites and the Markets Announcement Platform. As such, NZX decided to halt trading in its cash markets at approximately 15.57," the exchange said of the Tuesday attack.

On Wednesday, hackers struck again, with the exchange going down at just after 11 a.m. local time. It remained offline until around 3 p.m, the exchange said. The attack has been dealt with and connectivity has been restored, the exchange added.

"This morning NZX experienced a further disruption similar to yesterday's related to a DDoS (distributed denial of service) attack." the exchange said.

"A DDoS attack aims to disrupt service by saturating a network with significant volumes of internet traffic," it added. 

Last year, a ransomware attack paralysed Johannesburg agency City Power’s systems with the same kind of attack, while the City of Johannesburg itself was hit by a group who called themselves the Shadow Kill Hackers demanding a ransom payment in bitcoin. Shortly thereafter, hackers launched DDoS attacks on SA banks, flooding them with fake traffic. The criminals also demanded a ransom.

Speaking to Radio New Zealand, Auckland University of Technology Professor Dave Parry said that the attack was likely carried out by a "mafia type" gang of hackers.

"It [the DDoS attack] indicates whoever's doing the attacking is probably significantly skilled. These are quite sophisticated gangs and thinking along the lines of mafia type people is about right really, you're not really able to do this on a shoestring," he said.

"Unfortunately the skills and software to do this are widely available and the disruption of COVID and people working from home all over the world potentially with lower security on their computers means that these attacks are easier than usual."

No information has been given about the possible location of the hackers.

The attack on New Zealand's stock exchange comes after several high profile cyber attacks on neighbouring Australia. 

Australian prime minister Scott Morrison said in June the country had been the target of a large-scale cyber attack.

Scott Morrison said attacks had comprehensive in scope, aimed at the government, education, health, and business sectors.

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