Experts Comment on Cyberattacks Targeting Fund Trading Algorithms

Reports are emerging that cyber criminals are attacking and stealing in-house trading algorithms/code. According to the Financial Times, security company Kroll has observed three recent cases, said Ernest Hilbert, head of cyber investigations for Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

TK Keanini, CTO of Lancope (www.lancope.com):

This article could have easily be named “Cyber criminals continue to innovate.”  The fact of that matter is that cyber criminals are as intellectual as any other high business person and they are interested in keeping their business growing.  As defenders put in place countermeasures for protection, attackers find new ways to defeat these defenses and other areas to attack.

What makes this type of game so complicated is that is completely based on knowledge.  It is weightless and without physical dimension yet specific information can, in the right context, be monetized effectively.

Ken Westin, senior security analyst, Tripwire (www.tripwire.com):

White collar hacking is becoming more common, whether it is an insider exfiltrating corporate documents, or criminal syndicates targeting information that can be sold to brokers giving them an edge in the markets. Not only are trading algorithms at risk, but other information such as patent status, trade secret information, manufacturing processes and yields amongst other piece of information that may not initially seem sensitive, but in the right hands can provide a trader or competitor information that will give them an edge over other groups.

The important thing to realize is that if there is a buyer for this data, it has value and as such criminal hacker groups will target it. Underground markets and bitcoin are helping to establish marketplaces where white collar criminals and hackers can mingle and do business, something we have not seen before at this scale. Whether it is a white collar criminal enlisting the services of a criminal hacker to target a specific company and data, or the criminal hacker selling data they have already exfiltrated from an organization, these markets are growing in size and both the criminal white collar and hackers are becoming more brazen, so I expect to see more of these types of thefts to occur.

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