Today, I'd like to hear from data center operators in the financial sector, as I'd like to understand the meltdown of our financial services sector. I'm not seeking financial advice or political commentary, rather I'd like to know if you feel that anyone understands all the financial products that computer networks made possible or can identify the risks that these products brought.
As I understand it, the credit market started to dry up when the real estate boom ended. Homeowners in great numbers were unable to pay their mortgages, and banks and lenders suffered. Unfortunately, no one could count how many bad mortgages are out there, and nobody knew which banks held the bad loans because of the way they were resold and monetized. This was a good thing until the air went out of the balloon. I'm led to believe that our bankers and analysts had no way of knowing how much risk they were taking on. Apparently, we still don't know who owns the risky loans.
So now the question: did over reliance on computers or poor understanding of the products they helped create lead to this financial situation?
If so, what other systems do we need to audit so they don't fail in a catastrophic manner? Headlines in recent months suggest that our electrical distribution system was recently gamed for financial gain in a way unanticipated by the New York Independent System Operator. We all stand warned about how we can become vulnerable to identity theft by sharing data with retailers, and increasingly our medical files are available on-line to doctors--and who knows who else.
Sure some of these risks can be attributed to IT vulnerabilities, but other failings could reverberate because of a power failure or other facility problem.
The government recently deemed some large companies "too big to fail" before rushing to their rescue. Do we have national computer networks that are similarly "too big to fail?" And how would we rescue them if they did?