WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said technical problems reported on Wednesday by United Airlines and the New York Stock Exchange were apparently not related to "nefarious" activity.
"I have spoken to the CEO of United, Jeff Smisek, myself. It appears from what we know at this stage that the malfunctions at United and the stock exchange were not the result of any nefarious actor," Johnson said during a speech at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington think tank.
"We know less about the Wall Street Journal at this point, except that their system is in fact up again," he added.
Earlier on Wednesday, United flights were grounded after a router issue degraded connectivity in the airline's networks.
Just as United was bringing its systems back on-line, trading on the New York Stock Exchange came to a halt due to a technical problem and the Wall Street Journal's website experienced errors.
Johnson also said that approximately 4.2 million people, including government employees and contractors, had been notified about the recent breaches of government personnel data, but investigators are still trying to determine the total number affected by the hacks.
He said compromised data included information from government security-clearance background investigations.
Johnson also called for a new national data breach reporting system to replace the current "patchwork" of state laws, as well as enhanced criminal penalties for hacking.
(Reporting by Lisa Lambert and Mark Hosenball; Editing by Mohammad Zargham)