The Federal Bureau of Investigation in the United States has confirmed that they are investigating whether or not a group of Russians hacked the Dow Jones & Co. They believe that they were attempting to discover insider stock market tips that would allow them to predict changes in the markets, according to Bloomberg News.
While investigators are still not absolutely certain the Russians were behind it, the FBI does know that Dow Jones & Co. has had confidential information breached by outsiders, beginning more than a year ago. They speculate that the hackers intended to sell the inside information they gained to stock traders, who could then use it to improve their trading performance.
Although Dow Jones has denied that they have any knowledge of an investigation, Voice of America reported that the FBI has briefed the State Department, the White House and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on their investigation.
Cybersecurity investigators originally discovered the breach when they were hired by Dow Jones & Co. to evaluate whether hackers had obtained payment details on 3,500 of their customers. Currently, the FBI is unsure whether the compromised payment details and the hacked insider information are related or if they are the results of two separate breaches. Bloomberg reports sources have told them it is “far more serious than a lower-grade intrusion.”
This is not the first time the Russians have been suspected of breaching a U.S. stock exchange. In January, 2014, the NSA told top security officials in the United States that the Russians had hacked into the NASDAQ stock exchange. At the time it was believed that Moscow was planning to create a similar exchange. As early as 2010, the FBI realized that a foreign group had installed malware on the NASDAQ servers.
As U.S. corporations increase their investment in tighter cybersecurity, criminals are seeking other means of financial gain. They have discovered that they can obtain insider information about equities by gaining access to data providers and business journalists. Dow Jones & Co. publishes the Wall Street Journal and also has 10,000 industry insiders who receive private, embargoed information from them every day. When hackers obtain this information prior to it being released to the public, they are able to take positions in stocks ahead of other traders.
In addition to breaching the Dow Jones & Co. and the NASDAQ, Russian hackers are also believed to have targeted the Pentagon and email systems at the State Department and White House. However, it is nearly impossible to know if the breaches are coming from the Russian government, international criminals or both. It is suspected, though not proven, that the Russian government now operates an official full-time hacking unit.
They are not the only government that is suspected to be behind hacking attempts on corporate and government organizations in the United States. Recently, however, the Chinese arrested a few of the hackers in their country and officials have promised to try to slow down the number of incidents in the future.
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