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We all know that people with inside information can time their investment decisions to make millions in the stock market, then perhaps enjoy whopping fines and prison time. But what if you can get inside information without the insider’s knowledge?
It looks like a group of hackers is doing just that, actively pursuing confidential M&A communications from companies particularly in the health-care and pharmaceutical industries, according to a report released by FireEye, Inc.
How far have they gone? How do they do it? Have they targeted your company?
A hacking group—which FireEye calls “FIN4”—focuses its attention on stealing usernames and passwords to the email accounts of individuals—chief executives, outside counsel, consultants, researchers, scientists and others—who have non-public information about mergers and acquisitions. FireEye says FIN4 has on “multiple occasions” targeted such professionals who were involved in a single business deal. Spearfishing is just one of the tools in FIN4’s toolbox, and getting in and out undetected is how they operate.
The primary information target, according to FireEye, is information about events that will cause stock prices to rise or fall substantially in a short period of time. “Since at least mid-2013,” the report says, “FIN4 has pursued targets at more than 100 organizations, over two-thirds of which are public health-care and pharmaceutical companies.”
“If FIN4’s activities are indeed part of a sustained effort to gain advance access to market-moving information, it would not be the first time that network intrusions have played a role in an insider-trading case. However the scale of FIN4’s operations, with targets at more than 100 public companies, coupled with their tactic of going after key individuals’ emails, sets this group apart,” FireEye reports.
You can download the full report here.