U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Chairman Gary Gensler had to issue a correction Tuesday on X, formerly Twitter after hackers compromised the commission’s X account to post a fake announcement that the financial regulatory agency had issued a round of approvals for the hotly-anticipated Bitcoin exchange traded fund product.
“The @SECGov twitter account was compromised, and an unauthorized tweet was posted. The SEC has not approved the listing and trading of spot bitcoin exchange-traded products,” wrote Gary Gensler in an X post 15 minutes after the false announcement.
The @SECGov twitter account was compromised, and an unauthorized tweet was posted. The SEC has not approved the listing and trading of spot bitcoin exchange-traded products.
— Gary Gensler (@GaryGensler) January 9, 2024
“Today the SEC grants approval for #Bitcoin ETFs for listing on all registered national securities exchanges,” read the false post on the SECGov timeline, which the agency has since deleted. “The approved Bitcoin ETFs will be subject to ongoing surveillance and compliance measures to ensure continued investor protection.”
👀 Don't believe everything you read.
— CoinDesk (@CoinDesk) January 10, 2024
“The SEC has determined that there was unauthorized access to and activity on the @SECGov x.com account by an unknown party for a brief period of time shortly after 4 pm ET,” said Eric Geller, a spokesperson for the SEC in a statement Tuesday.
“That unauthorized access has been terminated. The SEC will work with law enforcement and our partners across government to investigate the matter and determine appropriate next steps relating to both the unauthorized access and any related misconduct,” Geller added.
Bitcoin’s spot price on cryptocurrency exchanges spiked suddenly Tuesday after the false announcement, then fell just as abruptly after the SEC corrected the error.
“The SEC continues to investigate the matter and is coordinating with appropriate law enforcement entities, including the SEC’s Office of the Inspector General and the FBI,” said a spokesperson for the SEC. Gaining unauthorized access to a protected computer online is a federal cybercrime. So are wire fraud and financial market manipulation.
Bitcoin markets have anticipated approval for over a dozen Bitcoin ETF applications from various issuers after a Washington D.C. Circuit Court essentially ordered the SEC to approve the applications last fall. The commission did approve several Bitcoin ETFs Wednesday, the following day after the cyberattack.