Markets

Hackers breached SEC's financial filing system

Hackers breached SEC's financial filing system

A flaw in the software used to file sensitive corporate information with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) was exploited in 2016, according to a statement from Jay Clayton.

But the 2016 breach was the result of a deliberate attack aimed at accessing the EDGAR filing system.

"We believe the intrusion did not result in unauthorised access to personally identifiable information, jeopardise the operations of the commission, or result in systemic risk", Clayton said in a long statement on cyber security risks.

According to the SEC, the breach was discovered previous year, but the possibility of illicit trading was uncovered only last month.

"I recognize that even the most diligent cybersecurity efforts will not address all cyber risks that enterprises face", Clayton wrote.

Clayton revealed the infiltration in a September 20 statement highlighting the fundamental importance of secure data collection and storage to the SEC and market participants. But the regulator learned past year that it had failed to keep closely guarded corporate secrets safe from hackers - and only just told the public about it after learning cyber-criminals may have placed profitable trades using the stolen information. A year later, the event has once again resurfaced with the SEC's admission that the attack "may have provided the basis for illicit gain through trading". With the public and lawmakers still reeling from Equifax's breach, the SEC intrusion is nearly certain to trigger additional questions over whether the US government can do more to protect data.

The SEC will continue to investigate the cyberattack and might coordinate with the "appropriate authorities", the statement said. The system, called Edgar, is used by companies to make legally required filings to the agency.

The incident comes just weeks after Equifax Inc, a major USA consumer credit reporting agency, disclosed that hackers had stolen data on more than 143 million customers and underscores the threat cyber criminals pose to the integrity of the financial markets.

Clayton said that intrusions were a reality in the current environment. 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.


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