Trading industry on high alert as plot to disrupt London Stock Exchange thwarted

Rick Steves

This incident comes at a time when cybersecurity concerns are at the forefront of the trading industry. The FIA EXPO 2023, held in the aftermath of the ransomware attack on ION Markets, had underscored the importance of cybersecurity as a top priority for the sector

In a concerning development for the trading industry, six individuals were apprehended by the Metropolitan police for allegedly planning to disrupt the opening of the London Stock Exchange (LSE).

The suspects, believed to be associated with the Palestine Action group, were reportedly plotting to obstruct LSE’s trading operations on Monday.

Palestine Action accuses LSE of raising funds for “apartheid Israel”

The plan involved individuals “locking on” to the building and causing damage. A 31-year-old man in Liverpool was arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to cause criminal damage, followed by the detention of two more individuals in Liverpool, two women aged 28 and 26, and a 29-year-old woman in Brent, north London. Additionally, a 23-year-old man in Tower Hamlets, east London, and a 27-year-old in Brighton were also arrested in connection with the alleged plot.

Metropolitan Police Det Supt Sian Thomas emphasized the seriousness of the situation, stating, “We believe this group was ready to carry out a disruptive and damaging stunt which could have had serious implications had it been carried out successfully.” She highlighted the ongoing coordination with the City of London police and other forces across the UK to manage potential disruptions in the coming days.

The group’s purported plan involved climbing on top of two revolving doors at the LSE’s front entrance, armed with red paint-filled fire extinguishers. The individuals intended to lock their necks to the glass entrance using bike locks. Meanwhile, additional activists were planning to lock themselves together at the main and back entrances. The group allegedly aimed to cause “huge economic damage,” firing red-painted fake banknotes, symbolizing blood, from “money guns.”

The investigation spanned two months, during which a reporter posed as a member of the group, according to information from the Daily Express, who cooperated with law enforcement in supplying critical details. The Palestine Action group, responding to the allegations, asserted that the LSE raises funds for what they described as “apartheid Israel” and trades shares in weapons manufacturers contributing to the Palestinian conflict.

This incident comes at a time when cybersecurity concerns are at the forefront of the trading industry. The FIA EXPO 2023, held in the aftermath of the ransomware attack on ION Markets, had underscored the importance of cybersecurity as a top priority for the sector. The attempt to disrupt the LSE serves as a stark reminder of the need for vigilant measures to safeguard financial institutions against potential cyber threats.

ION Markets was attacked last year

In March 2023, FIA’s Walt Lukken spoke before the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission’s Market Risk Advisory Committee about the recent ION Markets ransomware attack and announced the launch of a cyber risk taskforce unit.

ION Markets is a software service provider that offers middle- and back-office products to several clearing firms active in futures markets, not only in the US but also in Europe, Asia-Pacific, and the rest of the Americas. Those services are embedded in the execution and clearing workflow at these firms, and any disruption makes it difficult for firms to process their trades promptly and efficiently.

The cybersecurity event was a ransomware attack that forced several European and U.S. banks to revert to manual processes. A memo from Ion obtained by Bloomberg confirmed the attack was the work of the Russian-linked LockBit ransomware gang, who claimed responsibility for the attack and is threatening to leak data stolen from the company on February 4 unless a ransom demand is paid. Bloomberg reported that the attack affected at least 42 of Ion’s clients and forced several European and U.S. financial institutions to process some derivative trades manually.

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