Please stand by: America is experiencing ‘technical difficulties’

FlightAware's Misery Map also includes this handy chart of delays.
FlightAware’s Misery Map also includes this handy chart of delays.

Chaos was having a very good day and IT departments a very bad day on Wednesday.  First, passengers around the country were stranded — many still are — after United Airlines issued a ground stop for all flights.  Then, at nearly the same time United announced its systems had been fixed, the New York Stock Exchange went down, halting all trading.  The stoppage occurred amidst other global trading chaos, including a huge sell-off in Chinese markets that had seen halting of many individual stocks there.

Making matters worse for jittery market watchers, the Wall Street Journal’s website also went down, possibly as the result of a crush of traffic from all the bad news.

Technology, not hackers, were blamed in all cases.

United said on Twitter it experienced a “network connectivity issue,” with reports later adding detail that a faulty router was to blame.

The NYSE was more vague, but clearly denied it was suffering from a cyber-attack.

“The issue we are experiencing is an internal technical issue and is not the result of a cyber breach,” the NYSE Tweeted. “We chose to suspend trading on NYSE to avoid problems arising from our technical issue.  NYSE-listed securities continue to trade unaffected on other market centers.”

NYSE officials have told CNBC that the exchange might re-open at about 3 p.m. It’s important to note that today’s outage has had little effect on retail investors — consumers — because orders to buy and sell NYSE stocks can be executed on other exchanges, as explained in this Wall Street Journal story.  There might be some confusion about orders places right before the outage: Were they filled or canceled?  And, as that Journal story explains, there are some technical reasons that the NYSE must try to right the ship before 4 p.m. closing bell today.

There was plenty of indication that United passengers continued to have a miserable day Wednesday, even after that firm’s computers were fixed.

I’ll be updating this story as I learn more.

A few images from the day are below.

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The error message
The error message


FlightAware's Misery Map
FlightAware’s Misery Map

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About Bob Sullivan 1638 Articles
BOB SULLIVAN is a veteran journalist and the author of four books, including the 2008 New York Times Best-Seller, Gotcha Capitalism, and the 2010 New York Times Best Seller, Stop Getting Ripped Off! His latest, The Plateau Effect, was published in 2013, and as a paperback, called Getting Unstuck in 2014. He has won the Society of Professional Journalists prestigious Public Service award, a Peabody award, and The Consumer Federation of America Betty Furness award, and been given Consumer Action’s Consumer Excellence Award.

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