Healthcare Companies Most Hit By Hackers Stealing M&A Data
In December, Bloomberg had reported that hackers with knowledge of Wall Street's workings stole M&A data from over 80 companies. Bloomberg, citing security consultants, said that the data was stolen over a period of one year. More than two-thirds of the companies targeted by hackers were in the healthcare sector. This is not surprising as the healthcare sector has seen several deals announced since 2014.
The hackers probably used the stolen data for insider trading, according to FireEye Inc (NASDAQ: FEYE). Jen Weedon, FireEye's manager of threat intelligence, told Bloomberg that the hackers probably had worked on Wall Street given their knowledge.
Of the 80 companies hit by the hackers, 68 percent were publicly traded healthcare companies.
According to a Reuters report, the Securities and Exchange Commission is now conducting investigations into possible data breaches at publicly traded biotechnology companies. Reuters, citing certain sources, said that the agency has requested at least eight biotechnology companies to provide details of recent hacks.
The SEC's investigations have been initiated following the report from FireEye.
The modus operandi of the hackers was fairly simple. They reportedly created fake Microsoft Outlook login pages, which were then used to target executives, lawyers and consultants working on a deal. Once the hackers obtained their credentials, they hacked into confidential information about acquisitions and other material data. The material non-public information was then probably used to trade in the shares of the hacked companies.
Reuters noted that the SEC has not yet commented on the investigation. The agency is apparently working with the Secret Service to figure out how hackers are conducting their operations.
The healthcare sector has seen a number of deals since the beginning of 2014 and biotechnology companies enter into collaboration and licensing agreements on a regular basis. Getting access to such material information before the public gives hackers a chance to make huge profits.
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