Around half of the world's securities exchanges were the target of cyberattacks last year, according to a paper based on a survey of 46 exchanges.
The prevalence of attacks along with the interconnected nature of the markets creates the potential for widespread impact, said the joint staff working paper by the International Organization of Securities Commissions' (IOSCO) research department and the World Federation of Exchanges Office.
"There could be systemic impacts ... from cyberattacks in the securities markets, especially considering that our financial system is relying more and more on technological infrastructure," the report's author, Rohini Tendulkar of the IOSCO Research Department, said in an interview.
Among the exchanges surveyed, 53 percent said they experienced a cyberattack last year. The most common forms were Denial of Service attacks, which seek to disrupt websites and other computer systems by overwhelming the targeted organizations' networks with computer traffic and viruses.
Other cybercrimes reported by the exchanges included laptop theft, website scanning, data theft and insider information theft. None of the exchanges reported financial theft as part of the attacks.
"Cybercrime also appears to be increasing in terms of sophistication and complexity, widening the potential for infiltration and large-scale damage," said the report, released Tuesday. It warned that a major attack could result in widespread public mistrust and a retreat from the markets.