Photo courtesy of Wiki Commons.

Computer glitches Wednesday that caused thousands of delayed United Airlines flights, interrupted trading on the New York Stock Exchange and took down the Wall Street Journal’s website show how vulnerable information technology can be, a San Diego State University professor said.

“I think it’s scary for the average consumer to be able to see that their day can pretty much come to a halt for business purposes, just like all of these different businesses came to a halt today,” Lance Larson, assistant director of the graduate program in Homeland Security at SDSU, told City News Service.

“We’re used to having things our way and being able to get what we want when we want it, and when technology nightmares happen, they ripple down, usually for hours or days afterward, and we all feel it,” Larson said.

He said it’s difficult for IT professionals to prepare for every scenario when planning for system resiliency and redundancy. Failures will have a cascading effect.

“What that means is that when one thing fails, or one piece of data fails, it can affect hundreds, thousands or millions of other pieces of equipment or other pieces of data,” Larson said. “You can’t really just flip a switch and make things up and operational again.”

During a speech in Washington, Homeland Security Director Jeh Johnson said, “It appears from what we know at this stage is that the malfunctions at United and the Stock Exchange were not the result of any nefarious actor. We know less about the Wall Street Journal at this point, except that their system is back up again, as is the United Airlines system.”

Trading resumed around midday California time on the New York Stock Exchange.

— City News Service

Show comments