Web broker NDB.com down, blames hackers

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Thursday, February 24, 2000 Web broker NDB.com down, blames hackers

NEW YORK (Reuters) - National Discount Brokers Group Inc. said its stock trading Web site was down for more than an hour Thursday, due to an apparent computer hacker attack.

National Discount, a brokerage and share dealer, said its NDB.com's Web site froze early in the afternoon after it was flooded with information requests from two Internet addresses. The company fixed the problem by disconnecting the two Web addresses and had its site back up by 2.15 p.m. EST, said National Discount Chairman Dennis Marino.

"It had the earmarks of a hacker attack," Marino said in a telephone interview. "It appears to be some what similar to the 'denial of service' attacks in that it was a concerted, concentrated generation of traffic."

Computer hackers earlier this month paralyzed some of the Web's most popular sites, including those of media company Yahoo Inc. , online auction site eBay Inc and online broker E+Trade Group Inc's . Through a practice known as "denial of service," hackers set up automatic programs that bombard Web sites with so many information requests that legitimate users cannot log on.

National Discount initially blamed the outage on technical problems at the two companies that connect it to the Internet, PSINet Inc. and Exodus Communications Inc. . A spokesman for PSINet of Herndon, Va., said National Discount's problem did not originate at his company. Exodus of Santa Clara, Calif., declined comment.

The outage meant that National Discount 200,000 customers could not funnel stock orders through the firm's Web site, although they could relay orders over the phone.

One NDB.com customer in San Diego, Josh Landess, said he kept getting error messages as he tried to log on to the site.

"I couldn't get in at all," said Landess, a self-described day trader. "It looks like there was some hacking going on."

National Discount alerted regulators and law enforcement agencies to the apparent hacker attack, Marino said, adding he expected officials to start examining the firm's data shortly.


-- Martin Thompson (mthom1927@aol.com), February 24, 2000

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