Hackers May Have Profited From SEC Corporate Filing System Attack

22 September, 2017, 00:48 | Author: Marjorie Miles
  • SEC Says It Was a Victim of a Computer Hack Last Year

The US Securities and Exchange Commission was subject to hacking past year, it has disclosed.

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The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission disclosed late Wednesday night that hackers breached its online filing system and may have made "illicit gain through trading". Its announcement comes about two weeks after credit reporting agency Equifax said a major hack may have exposed personal data on as many as 143 million people. Commissioner Piwowar issued a separate statement which said "I was recently informed for the first time that an intrusion occurred in 2016 in the SEC's Electronic Data Gathering, Analysis, and Retrieval ("EDGAR") system". That breach was discovered in 2016, he said, but the SEC did not learn about the possibility of unlawful trading until 2017.

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"In today's environment, cyber attacks are perpetrated by identity thieves, unscrupulous contractors and vendors, malicious employees, business competitors, prospective insider traders and market manipulators, so-called 'hacktivists, ' terrorists, state-sponsored actors and others", Clayton said. The agency is still investigating the source of the hack, but said the "software vulnerability" was quickly patched.

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The incident, which Mr. Clayton said created an opportunity for cyberattackers to profit through illicit trading, was initially detected in 2016. Clayton said the agency's breach did not result in exposing personally identifiable information. It also found that the SEC did not always encrypt information and had failed to fully implement recommendations from the GAO that would help detect intrusion. If, however, hackers were able to use nonpublic information to affect stock prices, then bouncing back from a hack may not matter: The damage is done to the market, its investors, and its affected companies. A number of filings are immediately posted on Edgar when they are submitted to the database, so it's unclear what kind of information is kept non-public that could be a target for hackers. Two years ago it charged a group of mainly US -based stock traders and computer hackers in Ukraine with the theft of thousands of corporate press statements ahead of their public release, resulting in more than $100 million in illegal profit. The SEC regulates what companies must disclose to shareholders about breaches. "We also must recognise - in both the public and private sectors, including the SEC - that there will be intrusions, and that a key component of cyber risk management is resilience and recovery".

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