SEC alerts advisers on WannaCry ransomware cyberattacks

Regulator stresses vulnerability testing and timely system upgrades

May 17, 2017 @ 1:15 pm

By Liz Skinner

+ Zoom

The Securities and Exchange Commission staff issued a cybersecurity alert to broker-dealers, advisers and investment funds Wednesday in the wake of the pervasive ransomware cyberattack over the past five days known as "WannaCry."

The alert from the Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations emphasized the importance of firms conducting penetration tests and vulnerability scans on critical systems and stressed the necessity of upgrading systems on a timely basis.

The ransomware attack that was unleashed last week was especially damaging because it had a mechanism to spread through networks, looking to infect other computers that hadn't been updated to stop the worm.

The regulator said it doesn't expect firms to anticipate and prevent every cyberstrike, but it highlighted the importance of thinking about these issues in advance of an incident.

(More: Cyberattack should prompt advisers to ask their IT professionals hard questions)

"Appropriate planning to address cybersecurity issues, including developing a rapid response capability, is important and may assist firms in mitigating the impact of any such attacks and any related effects on investors and clients," the alert said.

WannaCry infects computers with malicious software that encrypts users' files and demands payment to regain access to the data. The ransomware attack hit more than 200,000 computers in 150 countries in recent days.

(More: Online security ETFs surge in face of cyberattacks)

The SEC staff alert said a recent OCIE examination of 75 firms found that 5% of broker-dealers and 26% of advisers and investment funds did not conduct periodic risk assessments of critical systems to uncover vulnerabilities, potential business consequences and other cybersecurity threats.

The alert also recommended firms review the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Computer Emergency Readiness Team's warning about cybersecurity actions firms might want to consider in reaction to the latest ransomware incident.

0
Comments

What do you think?

View comments

Recommended for you

Sponsored financial news

Featured video

Events

The Fuse impact: The judges weigh in

When vying for top honors at Fuse, it all comes down to a panel of judges. Hear directly from them on what they're looking for in finalists, and what gets them excited about this event every year.

Video Spotlight

Are Your Clients Prepared For Market Downturns?

Sponsored by Prudential

Recommended Video

Path to growth

Latest news & opinion

Jerry Schlichter's fee lawsuits have left an indelible mark on the 401(k) industry

After a decade of litigation, fees are lower and retirement plans are more transparent. But have the lawsuits gone too far?

10 best financial adviser jokes

How many financial advisers does it take to screw in a lightbulb?

With margins crashing, broker-dealers look to merge: report

Increased regulation is straining profit margins among broker-dealers, sending many of them into the arms of their bigger brethren.

Top 10 financial firms ranked by investor satisfaction

Find out which firm took the top slot for overall investor satisfaction for the second year in a row.

What not to say to clients when the markets drop

Here's what advisers should steer clear of saying the next time stocks turn downward.

X

Subscribe and Save 60%

Premium Access
Print + Digital

Learn more
Subscribe to Print