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A hacking and trading group stole wireservice information to buy stock and reap an illegal profit.

Up to 32 stock traders and hackers are alleged to have infiltrated the computer servers of PRNewswire Association LLC, Marketwired and Business Wire, a unit of Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Inc, over a five-year period and used the early access to 150,000 news releases on mergers, acquisitions and financial results to trade prior to the information being made public.

Five traders involved have been arrested in morning raids in Georgia and Pennsylvania while four others indicted on hacking and securities fraud charges remain at large.

Prosecutors in Brooklyn and New Jersey accused the traders of accessing data processed by financial wires to buy and sell company shares in a scam that netted the nine men some US$ 30 million (£20 million). A wider lawsuit by the Securities and Exchange Commission listed more than two dozen individuals and companies as defendants in what was described as the largest fraud of its kind ever prosecuted which had earned US$100 million (£64 million) in illegal profits.

Bloomberg reports that the suspected hackers are thought to be in Ukraine, and says that the illegally obtained information was sent to associates in America and Ukraine to buy and sell shares in companies. It is not known if there is any connection with a similar operation by a sophisticated hacking group dubbed “FIN4” which FireEye reported had tried to hack into email accounts at more than 100 companies, looking for confidential information on mergers and other market-moving events since mid-2013. The latest report suggests an ultimately destructive and damaging flaw in continuous cyber security controls. 

More than 100 companies were targeted in the latest action, including Panera Bread Co, Boeing Co, Hewlett-Packard Co, Caterpillar Inc and Oracle Corp, with “approximately 1,000 inside the window trades through retail brokerage accounts.” Money was then shifted offshore through Estonian banks, according to one of two federal indictments unsealed Tuesday.

You can read the full article on SC Magazine UK here. 

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