Cyber hackers are targeting the accounts of brokerage firms to steal assets and/or make illegal trades at an increasing rate, which has prompted securities regulators in the U.S. to shift their focus to this growing trend, reported Reuters.
Citing an interview with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Steven Peikin, along with Stephanie Avakian, were appointed new co-directors of enforcement. Reuters reported the two are very concerned with cyberattacks on brokerage firms. “The greatest threat to our markets right now is the cyber threat,” said Peikin in the exclusive interview. “That crosses not just this building, but all over the country.”
According to the report, the SEC has seen an increase in the number of investigations that involve hacking and an increase in the number of attempts to break into the account of brokerage accounts. The SEC is now gathering statistics on cybercrimes as a result so that it can better pinpoint market-wide issues.
The types of crimes encompass everything from stealing information for insider trading to stealing assets. In one case from 2016, the SEC charged a U.K. man with breaking into several accounts and placing unauthorized trades. He profited by trading the exact same stocks in his own account.
“I think we will see the cyber threat continue to emerge,” Avakian said in the same interview. Both told Reuters that enforcement efforts at the SEC will continue to be “vigorous.”
The SEC has stepped up cybersecurity on the heels of the high-profile WannaCry ransomware attacks from a few weeks ago that impacted computer systems around the globe. The Shadow Brokers, which released hacking tools that enabled WannaCry, have threatened to do even more for a fee.