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The cyber security threat to FX algos

Although processes are in place to limit the impact of rogue algorithms, there are further steps electronic FX trading networks can take to protect themselves from cybercriminal activity.

Given the kudos a hacker would receive for disrupting the world’s largest financial market, it is perhaps surprising that more effort has not been made to target the systems that support the trillions of dollars of FX trades made every day.

FX broker FXCM remains the only high profile victim to date.

Tom Higgins, Gold-i

Gold-i CEO Tom Higgins says it would be difficult for someone to make a profit from attacking an electronic FX trading network, as all they could do is place trades with no guarantee they would make money from those trades.

However, he also accepts that a distributed denial of service attack – which would make the trading service unavailable – represents a considerable threat.

“The security behind trading networks at banks is extremely high,” he says. “Standard security mechanisms are very high quality, with strong levels of encryption and authentication, and ECNs and exchanges often use circuit breakers.

“However, as you get closer to the retail end of the markets, networks are less secure and there are very few controls in place.

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