SEC reveals data breach that may have enabled insider trading

SEC says hackers may have profited from stolen insider information

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

The SEC disclosure came two weeks after credit-reporting company Equifax Inc said a breach has exposed sensitive personal of data up to 143 million us customers, and follows last year's cyber attack on SWIFT, the global bank messaging system.

A major computer hack at America's top stock market regulator is the latest sign that data stored in the highest reaches of USA government remains vulnerable to cyber attacks, despite efforts across multiple presidencies to limit high-profile breaches that are so frequent many consider them routine.

In 2015, the SEC brought the first insider trading case of its kind against a group of rogue stock traders who used hackers in Ukraine to get nonpublic information about companies.

The agency says the "software vulnerability. was patched promptly after discovery", and didn't reveal any personally identifiable information.

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"The SEC is a juicy target because they store non-public information, which can be used to exploit the stock market - not exploiting in the technical sense, but using the non-public information to successfully invest in the stock market", Smith told SearchSecurity.

The statement is part of an ongoing assessment of the SEC's cybersecurity risk profile that Clayton initiated upon taking office in May.

Clayton said that the vendors that SEC works with have also exposed the agency to vulnerabilities because "a weakness in vendor systems or software products may provide a mechanism for a cyber threat actor to access SEC systems or information through trusted paths".

The SEC has experienced other security risks in recent years.

SEC chairman Jay Clayton revealed the hack in a larger statement on cybersecurity at the agency. It said that its database of corporate announcements was breached and cybercriminals may have used the information for profit. Securities industry rules require companies to disclose cyber breaches to investors and the SEC has investigated firms over whether they should have reported incidents sooner. The SEC says a cyber breach of a filing system it uses may have provided the basis for some illegal trading in 2016. The SEC provided little information, so it's still unknown which companies may have been affected or if hackers made a profit. "We also must recognize-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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