Security researchers say they have uncovered a cyber espionage ring focused on stealing corporate secrets for the purpose of gaming the stock market, in an operation that has compromised sensitive data about dozens of publicly held companies. Cybersecurity firm FireEye Inc, which disclosed the operation on Monday, said that since the middle of last year, the group has attacked email accounts at more than 100 firms, most of them pharmaceutical and healthcare companies. Victims also include firms in other sectors, as well as corporate advisors including investment bankers, attorneys and investor relations firms, according to FireEye. The cybersecurity firm declined to identify the victims. It said it did not know whether any trades were actually made based on the stolen data. Still, FireEye Threat Intelligence Manager Jen Weedon said the hackers only targeted people with access to highly insider data that could be used to profit on trades before that data was made public. They sought data that included drafts of U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filings, documents on merger activity, discussions of legal cases, board planning documents and medical research results, she said. "They are pursuing sensitive information that would give them privileged insight into stock market dynamics," Weedon said.
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