Nine alleged computer hackers were charged today for their roles in a securities fraud scheme that earned $30 million in illicit gains by stealing and trading on corporate earnings data procured from newswire services before they were published. The charges, which were brought by U.S. Attorney’s Offices for the District of New Jersey and the Eastern District of New York, include securities fraud, wire fraud, fraud in connection with computers, aggravated identity theft, and money laundering conspiracy.
Additionally, the SEC has announced fraud charges against these nine defendants as well as twenty-three more. Adding the earnings from these defendants, the illicit gains add up to more than $100 million.
“Hacker defendants” Ivan Turchynov and Oleksandr Ieremenko, named in the indictment as computer hackers that lived in Ukraine, compromised a number of newswire services, including PR Newswire (owned by United Business Media, Dark Reading’s parent company), Marketwired, and Business Wire.
Tens of thousands of press releases were stolen from each of the services before they were published. The attackers got access to Marketwired networks in 2010 through SQL injection and used reverse shells to steal the data. The hackers also acquired contact information and credentials for Marketwired employees, customers, and business partners. They obtained access to PRN on three occasions in 2010, 2011, and 2013 and lost access once because of a change in the PRN’s infrastructure and twice because PRN detected the intrusion and ejected the hackers. They also compromised Business Wire and stole credentials.
The seven “trader defendants” — Arkadiy Dubovoy, Igor Dubovoy, Pavel Dubovoy, Vitaly Korchevsky, Vladislav Khalupsky, Aleksandr Garkusha, and Leonid Momotok — live in both the United States and Ukraine. They traded on the privileged information before it was publicly released, and paid Turchynov and Ieremenko portions of their proceeds, often through the use of shell companies.
“Russian speaking cybercriminals have immersed and educated themselves on the information supply chain of Wall Street,” said Trend Micro chief cybersecurity officer Tom Kellermann. “Within the capital market community, information plus time equals power. Media outlets are key distributors of market information and are being targeted for the purposes of front running, a widespread phenomenon that was first highlighted in a 2006 World Bank Report.
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