On September 25, 2017, the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) announced two initiatives for its Enforcement Division. These are the creation of a Cyber Unit and a retail strategy task force. Although these initiatives have reportedly been in the works for months, they were disclosed just days after the world learned that the SEC’s EDGAR filing system was the target of a 2016 hack. According to Reuters, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the US Secret Service have now begun an investigation into the breach.
“Cyber-related threats and misconduct are among the greatest risks facing investors and the securities industry,” said co-director of the SEC’s Enforcement Division Stephanie Avakian. “The Cyber Unit will enhance our ability to detect and investigate cyber threats through increasing expertise in an area of critical national importance.”
Most relevant to cryptocurrency investors is a single line in the agency’s release on the matter. Apparently, one of the focus areas for the newly-created Cyber Unit will be “violations involving distributed ledger technology and initial coin offerings.” As phishing attacks, scams, and misinformation abound, the SEC has been relatively inactive on the cryptocurrency front. However, the agency has invested as much as $200,000 in blockchain-related inquiries through a contract with Chainalysis.
In July 2017, the SEC published a report that classified the tokens from The DAO as securities. Since then, the agency has yet to provide further guidance about other projects that might run afoul of securities regulation. ETHNews has attempted to provide some insights into how our community can understand the overlaps and differences between coins, tokens, and securities.