NZX cyberattack and the Covid pandemic: ‘You throw out the playbook’

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Even in a bad year, things can always get worse.

The New Zealand Stock Exchange experienced this first hand in August, when a massive cyberattack knocked its servers out of public view for nearly a week.

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Photo: Supplied / NZX

“You throw out the playbook when you get something like that,” NZX chief executive Mark Peterson told Morning Report.

“An awful lot of electronic messages effectively flooded our infrastructure and that made the website unavailable I think on the first day it was down for an hour, on the second day it was down for a couple of hours, on the third day it was down from 11 o’clock through to 5 o’clock because we were actually doing some work to lift our protections and then on the Friday it was down for an hour.”

NZX chose to halt the market through these periods in order to protect market integrity, he said.

“Your response goes to what are we seeing, what do we know, how can we protect ourselves, what are the options and then once we’ve decided what those options are we chose the best one and executed on it.”

Cyber crime was ramping up, he said.

“It was very unexpected, at the extreme end of unlikelihood.”

Staying afloat during a pandemic

Because of the pandemic, some listed companies used the market to raise $5 billion to keep afloat when they couldn’t open their doors.

“We had some businesses in our listed company set which were severly impacted those tourism, airline industries et cetera, their revenue lines really took a big tumble and the big thing that they then needed to do was raise captial,” Peterson said.

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NZX chief executive Mark Peterson
Photo: RNZ / Dom Thomas

Investor fairness was important but survival was the number one criteria, Peterson said.

“We increased the placement ability levels, we increased the rights offer levels and that general capacity to raise more for existing and new shareholders. That was the biggest thing that we could do at the time.”

Covid has had a massive impact on the market, he said.

The levels are up 40-50 percent this year.

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