SEC Reveals Multi-Factor Authentication Disabled in False Bitcoin ETF Approval Post

SEC Reveals Multi-Factor Authentication Disabled in False Bitcoin ETF Approval Post

On Monday, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) shocked the public with the disclosure that the multi-factor authentication (MFA) on its X account had been disabled, leading to a false post regarding the approval of spot Bitcoin ETFs. This incident occurred on January 9, 2024, when the SEC’s official Twitter account was compromised, raising serious concerns about the agency’s cybersecurity measures.

According to a statement released by an SEC spokesperson on January 22, it was revealed that the unauthorized party behind the attack gained control of the agency’s cell phone number associated with the Twitter account through a “SIM swap” attack. A SIM swap attack involves transferring a person’s phone number to another device without proper authorization. The SEC clarified that the access to the phone number occurred via the telecom carrier, rather than a vulnerability in their systems.

Disabling Multi-Factor Authentication

One troubling aspect that came to light was the fact that multi-factor authentication had been disabled on the @SECGov X account since July 2023 at the staff’s request. The disabling was apparently due to issues accessing the account. This enabled the unauthorized party to easily gain control of the compromised account and post false announcements regarding the approval of spot Bitcoin exchange-traded funds. It was only after the account was compromised that the staff re-enabled multi-factor authentication. Currently, MFA is enabled for all SEC social media accounts that offer it.

The SEC has assured the public that, based on current information, there is no evidence that the unauthorized party gained access to its systems, data, devices, or other social media accounts. This statement aims to alleviate concerns about the potential compromise of confidential information. However, the agency acknowledges the valid concerns regarding the security of its social media accounts and reaffirms its commitment to upholding cybersecurity obligations.

Impact and Ongoing Investigation

While the extent of the impact is still being assessed, the SEC is collaborating with law enforcement and federal oversight entities to thoroughly investigate the incident. The agency is not using social media channels for official announcements and emphasizes that posts made on its official website should be given priority. The SEC will provide updates on the incident as the investigation progresses, and it is prepared to take necessary remedial measures to address any security concerns.

The recent compromise of the SEC’s Twitter account raises important questions about the agency’s cybersecurity practices. The disabling of multi-factor authentication and the subsequent false announcement of Bitcoin ETF approval highlight vulnerabilities that need to be urgently addressed. As the investigation continues, it is crucial for the SEC to implement robust cybersecurity measures to safeguard its social media accounts and prevent future breaches. The incident serves as a reminder of the critical importance of maintaining strong security protocols in the digital age, particularly for institutions handling sensitive financial information.


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