A group of Russian hackers infiltrated the servers of Dow Jones & Co., owner of the Wall Street Journal and several other news publications, and stole information to trade on before it became public, according to four people familiar with the matter.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation, Secret Service and the Securities and Exchange Commission are leading an investigation of the infiltration, according to the people. The probe began at least a year ago, one of them said.
The breach is described by the people as far more serious than a lower-grade intrusion disclosed a week ago by Dow Jones, a unit of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. The company said last week that it was working with a cybersecurity firm and law enforcement after learning that hackers had sought contact and payment information of about 3,500 customers.
Information embargoed by companies and the government for release at a later time could be valuable to traders looking to gain an edge over other market participants, as could stories being prepared on topics like mergers and acquisitions that move stock prices.
Dow Jones publishes the Wall Street Journal and Barron’s and provides information through a number of services including Dow Jones Newswires. Bloomberg LP, the parent of Bloomberg News, competes with News Corp. in providing financial news and services.
Colleen Schwartz, a spokeswoman for Dow Jones, didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.
The hack investigation shows how quickly law enforcers are shifting to a new front in insider trading: cyberspace. Market-moving, nonpublic information used to trade hands in secret meetings. Hackers are now stealing sensitive information and selling it to traders. This new vulnerability in the financial markets is challenging law-enforcement officials who are trying to keep pace with cyber-criminals’ rapidly evolving moneymaking schemes.