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Unprecedented: DDoS Attacks Take Down NZ Stock Market, Banks, Online News & Weather Service

The stock market, banks, news organisations and online weather service in New Zealand have all been targeted by a series of distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks.

"The nation is confronting cyber attacks on an unprecedented scale," said New Zealand's Justice Minister, Andrew Little.

While a series of DDoS attacks occurred around the world during the last half of August, the attack last week on the New Zealand stock exchange, the NZX, was one of the worst and saw it stop trading for four days.

"Trading was halted to maintain market integrity because the attacks prevented it from publishing market announcements," said the NZX in a statement.

The crippling of the NZX spurred on those behind the attacks.

"(It) motivated them to continue, and they picked on other organisations as well," said Little.

In addition to the NZX, one bank, TSB, was hit by a DDoS attack on September 1, the same day as the weather service, MetService, while two local news organisations repelled attacks over the weekend of Aug. 29-30. Another bank, Westpac, had successfully fended off an attack two weeks ago.

Government agencies are unsure of the source of the attacks, but believe they originated 'offshore'. One possible lead being followed are 'ransom' emails sent to employees of the targeted organisations. However, the cyber criminals behind the attack might prove elusive.

"Tracking down the perpetrators of the attacks ... would be extremely difficult, as the distributed denial of service attacks are being routed through thousands of computers," said Mr. Little.

Nonetheless, the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) - responsible for defending the country’s critical cyber-infrastructure - is investigating the matter, and one top Government official said the matter is being "treated very seriously."

As of Sept. 4, the NZX and all the other organisations affected by the attacks report being back online.

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