U.S. Securities Regulator Hack Rattles Investors, Stirs Doubts

Wall Street’s top regulator faced questions on Thursday about its defenses against cybercriminals after admitting hackers breached its electronic database of corporate announcements and may have used it for insider trading, Reuters reports.

The incursion at the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) struck at the heart of the U.S. financial system. The SEC’s EDGAR filing system is the central repository for market-moving information on corporate America with millions of filings ranging from quarterly earnings to statements on acquisitions.

Accessing documents before they are released publicly would offer hackers a lucrative opportunity to trade on that information.

The SEC said late on Wednesday that a hack occurred in 2016 but it had only discovered last month that the cybercriminals may have used the information to make illegal trades.

SEC Chairman Jay Clayton gave members of Congress a “courtesy call” about the hack late on Wednesday afternoon, said Rep. Bill Huizenga, chairman of the House subcommittee on Capital Markets, Securities, and Investment, which oversees the SEC.

”I’m glad that Jay Clayton has decided to acknowledge this and release it, warts and all,” Huizenga said.

”It’s hugely problematic and we’ve got to be serious about how we protect that information as a regulator. I’m hoping that this leads to some vast improvements and an uptick in the vigilance that all the regulators are going to have with information that’s coming to them.”

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