Real-time stock market data supplier Online Trading Systems has blamed hackers for a series of security breaches of its servers during the past three weeks, affecting more than 40,000 of its clients.
After a series of unexplained crashes on all six of its servers, the security breaches came to the attention of the company. The servers crashed at least once a day, sometimes up to three times a day for three weeks.
Adam Ghigben, the company's system administrator, said the average uptime in that period was no more than 12 hours a day.
"The cost of the breaches for the company is indeterminable at this point," he said. "The greatest loss is to reputation. To be breached in this way is a nuisance and when the service becomes unavailable it damages our competitive image."
When Ghigben and his team changed the system software, they detected a trojan horse virus which made the system unstable and more susceptible to crash. The virus, which had evaded the company's previous scans, was eventually found to be the widespread Back Orifice 2000 trojan horse, after the rigorous three-week investigation.
The breaches have been reported to Victoria Police.
In a statement to the Australian Stock Exchange, chief executive officer Albert Dadon said: "We can now advise that all damage caused by the hackers has been repaired, and that all services have returned to normal."
Online Trading Systems has assured its clients that it has implemented new security measures to ensure the breaches are not repeated. The company has also appointed systems administrators to provide continuous monitoring to identify any abnormal server activities.
Dadon criticised competitors for taking advantage of Online Trading Systems' woes. "We are extremely disappointed that our competitors have used this as an opportunity to publicly attack Online Trading Systems and its products," he said.
"At a time when all industry members are equally susceptible to this criminal activity, we would have preferred the industry to unite in support, rather than celebrating a competitor's misfortune."
Online Trading Systems said there has been no threat to the security of subscribers' personal information, and that no clients have experienced any financial loss as a result of the breach.