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Hackers Infiltrate Corporate News Service Business Wire

Business Wire Investigating Cyberattack

Global newswire service Business Wire said on Tuesday that it is working with the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate a cyberattack that may have allowed malicious actors to gain unauthorized access to non-public, market-moving information stored on its news distribution platform.

The Berkshire Hathaway-owned news service provided few details, but the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) on Tuesday filed fraud charges against 32 individuals for taking part in a scheme to profit from stolen nonpublic information about corporate earnings announcements.

Business Wire described the attack as a “sophisticated global hacking scheme” that allegedly landed sensitive information in the hands of attackers.

“This international scheme is unprecedented in terms of the scope of the hacking, the number of traders, the number of securities traded and profits generated,” said Securities and Exchange Commission Chair Mary Jo White. “These hackers and traders are charged with reaping more than $100 million in illicit profits by stealing nonpublic information and trading based on that information. That deception ends today as we have exposed their fraudulent scheme and frozen their assets.”

Business Wire, which is used by hundreds of public companies to deliver their material news and fulfill their regulatory disclosure requirements, said it has hired a cybersecurity firm to conduct forensic testing of its systems.

“Security is our number one concern at Business Wire,” said Cathy Baron Tamraz, the company’s CEO, said in a statement. “We devote substantial resources annually to security, including multiple security audits by leading industry consultants. Protecting the confidential information of our clients is of paramount importance. Despite extreme vigilance and commitment, recent events illustrate that no one is immune to the highly sophisticated illegal cyber-intrusions that are plaguing every aspect of our society.”

Contacted by SecurityWeek, the company declined to provide additional details on the breach.

Other threat actor groups have targeted sensitive corporate data from public companies in the past.

In December 2014, Researchers at FireEye issued a report on an attack group dubbed "FIN4" that targeted C-level executives to get insider information that could be used to gain an advantage in the stock market. Since mid-2013, FireEye linked them to attacks at more than 100 companies, all which were either public companies or advisory firms that provide services to those companies, such as investment banking firms and legal firms. 

A FireEye spokesperson told SecurityWeek that it is not currently engaged with Business Wire and that the individuals charged by the SEC today are not the same as the FIN4 group.

Related Reading:  FIN4 Attack Group Targets Firms for Stock Market Profit

*Updated with SEC Charges

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For more than 10 years, Mike Lennon has been closely monitoring the threat landscape and analyzing trends in the National Security and enterprise cybersecurity space. In his role at SecurityWeek, he oversees the editorial direction of the publication and is the Director of several leading security industry conferences around the world.