Are High Frequency Trading Networks Vulnerable To Hackers?

They very well could be, according to this article.

High-frequency trading networks could be vulnerable to hackers, by injecting a small amount of latency into the network.

Rony Kay, a former IBM research fellow and founder of cPacket Networks, is extremely worried about this.

Kay says the problem is due to the shear speed of the networks. As the networks get faster, humans can’t understand what is going on in them. If the changes happen in a microsecond, not even the best network monitoring technology can detect it yet.

“We believe that such techniques pose a substantial risk of creating unfair trading, if used by the wrong people,” Kay says.

“It’s difficult to take corrective actions when you can’t really see what’s taking place,” Kay says. “If you cannot measure network latency, you cannot control it and cannot improve it.”

If HFT can be manipulated, then the markets as a whole can be manipulated, as HFT now accounts for a large majority of trading on the New York Stock Exchange today.

It provides another headache for the SEC to worry about, and they are still on their first set of aspirin from the last series of headaches.

— Roger Nachman

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