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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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An Aggie in NYC: Technical difficulties should stand as a warning

An+Aggie+at+NYC
Photo by Lindsey Gawlik
An Aggie at NYC

NEW YORK — The newsroom in the Fox News Channel headquarters seemed casual as I sat at my desk working on prompter script for the next day’s morning show. I knew, however, upstairs the employees on the Fox Business floor were probably running around, making calls, checking every newswire, Twitter feed, anything to make sure the audience gets the most accurate updates on the stock exchange freeze Wednesday morning. 

I watched from the TVs all around the control rooms as Wall Street went eerily quiet around 11:32 a.m. Wednesday. It’s a scene unimaginable, something anyone would think impossible if they had to walk past the New York Stock Exchange every afternoon like I do on my commute home from work. The NYSE tweeted it was experiencing “a technical glitch,” — eerily at the same time The Wall Street Journal’s homepage stopped working, and only hours after United Airlines grounded all of its flights for a “technical issue.” 

Although The New York Times said all three businesses have insisted the errors were completely separate and were not the work of any hackers, I find myself feeling an uneasiness about the technical glitches. Not only did they happen on the same day, but within mere minutes and hours of each other. And all of them touched New York. 

Maybe the incidents are nothing, unlinked and unrelated. Maybe everyone was just coincidentally having a bad day with technology. Glitches in all technical systems are, in modern times, inevitable until better tech comes along. But when three major businesses go down within hours of each other for the same reason — it’s a little alarming, to say the least. 

It raises the question of how safe our tech is. What would happen if someone decided to hack into multiple companies at once through a single system? In a world as connected as ours cyber security is becoming a larger issue. 

That aside, even if these incidents were simply coincidental, they all simultaneously affected the global economy — something that has been suffering enough with the ongoings in Greece and Europe. United Airlines had to hold around 4,900 flights according to CNNMoney, whereas stocks took major hits from the NYSE freeze according to USA Today. 

The good news is that, for now, everything is back up and running smoothly. Reuters reported President Barack Obama has been briefed on the incidents, and has been told there “is no sign of malicious activity.” So for now we all can assume the incidents were some freak coincidence. 

If anything these cases have shown us how our day would be thrown into chaos if all our technology ever did stop working at once. Our society has become increasingly tech-dependent. 

Almost 5,000 flights had to be grounded. Let’s say there were about 100-200 passengers on board most of those. That’s between 50,000 and 100,000 people affected by the flight delays. Not to mention the thousands of people who have invested in the NYSE, or who read the WSJ. The shutdowns hit the pockets and took time out of the lives of thousands Wednesday — that should alone show us how tech-dependent we are as a society. 

Hopefully people can view these cases as something of a warning, something that will tighten cyber security and remind companies of the importance of knowing how to function without modern tech. Otherwise, the next time a coincidence like this strikes, it might not have such a short-term effect.

 

Lindsey Gawlik is a telecommunication and media studies senior and writer for The Battalion.

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