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SEC sets up Cyber Unit to check DLT and ICO violations

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is going to set up a Cyber Unit to curb violation involving distributed ledger technology (DLT) and initial coin offerings (ICOs).

The Cyber Unit is one of the initiatives announced in order to combat cyber-based threats. In addition, the SEC also announced the formation of Retail Strategy Task Force, which will develop proactive, targeted initiatives to identify misconduct impacting retail investors.

The two initiatives will build on the SEC’s Enforcement Division’s ongoing efforts to address cyber-based threats and protect retail investors.

According to the official announcement, the Cyber Unit will focus the Enforcement Division’s substantial cyber-related expertise on targeting cyber-related misconduct. This includes:

  • “Market manipulation schemes involving false information spread through electronic and social media
  • Hacking to obtain material nonpublic information
  • Violations involving distributed ledger technology and initial coin offerings
  • Misconduct perpetrated using the dark web
  • Intrusions into retail brokerage accounts
  • Cyber-related threats to trading platforms and other critical market infrastructure”

The cyber unit has been in the planning stages for months and will be led by Robert A. Cohen. The initiative complements the Chairman’s initiatives to implement an internal cybersecurity risk profile and create a cybersecurity working group to coordinate information sharing, risk monitoring, and incident response efforts throughout the agency.

“Cyber-related threats and misconduct are among the greatest risks facing investors and the securities industry,” said Stephanie Avakian, Co-Director of the SEC’s Enforcement Division. “The Cyber Unit will enhance our ability to detect and investigate cyber threats through increasing expertise in an area of critical national importance.”

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By Shampa Mani
  • Market Data
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