February 22, 2018

SEC: hackers may have traded on 'insider' corporate info

22 September 2017, 12:50 | Denise Dawson

SEC says hack may have led to illegal Wall Street profits

Jay Clayton

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission said Wednesday night that its online filing system was hacked and the culprits may have made profits illicit trades. The credit reporting agency Equifax announced a massive hack earlier this month that affected 143 million Americans, sparking outrage on Capitol Hill and multiple investigations. "As another example, our Division of Enforcement has investigated and filed cases against individuals who we allege placed fake SEC filings on our EDGAR system in an effort to profit from the resulting market movements". But the 2016 breach was the result of a deliberate attack aimed at accessing the EDGAR filing system.

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has revealed that attackers might have used data they stole in a security breach for illicit insider trading.

"When you have one central repository for all this information - man, that's a target", said Republican Representative Bill Huizenga, chairman of the House subcommittee on Capital Markets, Securities, and Investment, which oversees the SEC.

The order put responsibility for cybersecurity on the shoulders of the director of every federal agency, making it more hard for executives to pass the buck to their information technology staffs.

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In May 2017, SEC Chairman Jay Clayton initiated an assessment of the agency's internal cybersecurity risk profile and approach to cybersecurity. However, prior to patching the vulnerability was exploited, resulting in "access to nonpublic information", he said. It also found the SEC hadn't implemented certain parts of its information security program, such as maintaining up-to-date network diagrams and monitoring key systems' security configurations. Clayton said the agency's breach did not result in exposing personally identifiable information.

He was assured in his belief that there was no personal data exposed in the breach.

If the right information gets into the wrong hands it can greatly upset the stability of the market, and if hacks happen it's hard to trust trading on Wall Street to be fair. The SEC regulates what companies must disclose to shareholders about breaches.

Clayton's statement added, "Cybersecurity is critical to the operations of our markets and the risks are significant and, in many cases, systemic". Federal prosecutors alleged that 32 traders and hackers reaped more than $100 million in illegal proceeds in a scheme so brazen that the traders would send shopping lists of corporate news releases for sneak-peeking purposes to the hackers in order to place trades.

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