June 14, 2024

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) on Tuesday announced that it will expand and rebrand its Cyber Unit to fight against cyber-related threats and protect investors in cryptocurrency markets.

To that end, the SEC is renaming the Cyber Unit within the Division of Enforcement to Crypto Assets and Cyber Unit and plans to infuse 20 additional positions with the goal of investigating wrongdoing in the crypto markets.

The goal, per the agency, is to tackle cryptocurrency fraud and crackdown on malicious actors attempting to profit from crypto marketplaces.

The Cyber Unit was instituted in September 2017 with a focus on addressing cyber-based threats and protecting retail investors. But given the dramatic evolution of the digital assets markets in recent years, the new unit is expected to focus on securities law violations pertaining to –

  • Crypto asset offerings
  • Crypto asset exchanges
  • Crypto asset lending and staking products
  • Decentralized finance (DeFi) platforms
  • Non-fungible tokens (NFTs), and
  • Stablecoins

Additionally, the unit also aims to take action against SEC registrants and public companies for lapses in cybersecurity controls and for failing to appropriately disclose data breaches and other security incidents.

The cyber team is said to have brought more than 80 enforcement actions related to fraudulent and unregistered crypto asset offerings and platforms since 2017, resulting in $2 billion in monetary relief for investors, according to SEC.

“Crypto markets have exploded in recent years, with retail investors bearing the brunt of abuses in this space. Meanwhile, cyber-related threats continue to pose existential risks to our financial markets and participants,” said Gurbir S. Grewal, Director of the SEC’s Division of Enforcement.

“The bolstered Crypto Assets and Cyber Unit will be at the forefront of protecting investors and ensuring fair and orderly markets in the face of these critical challenges.”