Charles Schwab Hit By Denial-Of-Service Cyber Attack

Elaine Radford

Charles Schwab Corp. customers got a jolt near the end of a volatile trading day if they tried to access their accounts by computer or phone.

Some of the huge discount broker's nearly 9 million account holders were frustrated when they discovered that they couldn't long onto the Schwab website. The denial-of-service (DOS) attack came on an active Tuesday for Wall Street, with about 4 billion shares traded on the New York Stock Exchange.

Hackers had already created a temporary dip in the mostly bullish day by hacking into the Associated Press Twitter feed. In a hoax that played on fires fueled by the recent Boston Marathon bombing, the fake AP feed said that two bombs had gone off in the White House, injuring President Barack Obama.

There was absolutely no truth to the story, and the stock market surged later. When Netflix announced that they had added more than 2 million US subscribers, their shares soared 24 percent with about triple the normal volume of trades in that stock.

Apple also soared Tuesday after it announced strong fiscal 2013 quarterly results, including "quarterly revenue of $43.6 billion and quarterly net profit of $9.5 billion."

Charles Schwab released an official statement in the immediate aftermath of the DOS attack: "Shortly before the stock market closed today, we experienced an exceptionally high volume of website traffic which we believe was related to a denial-of-service attack. At all times, phone access to Schwab service professionals (800-435-4000) was available, although for a brief time immediately before market close call volumes were high. Web access was largely restored in approximately one hour and forty minutes."

The hackers didn't break in, and they didn't compromise anyone's personal financial data. They just made life more difficult for genuine Schwab customers.

— Charles Schwab Corp (@CharlesSchwab) April 23, 2013

[savings fund photo by nenetus via Shutterstock]