Bank of England confirms high-speed traders hacked audio feed

Hedge funds reportedly gained information from a Bank of England press conference audio feed five to eight seconds faster than other marker participants.

The Bank of England has confirmed an internal audio feed of press conferences was hacked by high-speed traders seeking early access to information before the rest of the market.

In a statement, the Bank of England said it identified an audio feed, which was installed as a back-up in case the video feed failed, was made accessible to hedge funds by a third-party supplier early this year without its knowledge or consent.

The Times first reported the hijack, adding that documents revealed the third-party supplier hacked the audio feed and sold access to high-speed trading firms for between £2,500 and £5,000 per press conference, alongside a subscription fee.

Hedge funds which accessed the feed reportedly gained information five to eight seconds faster than market participants using the main video feed. Access to press conferences from the US Federal Reserve, the European Central Bank and the Bank of Canada were also reportedly for sale.

Once the hack was identified, the Bank of England said it immediately disabled the third-party supplier’s access, and the supplier did not have access to the Bank’s most recent press conference. The supplier will no longer play any part in the institution’s press conferences.

“This wholly unacceptable use of the audio feed was without the Bank’s knowledge or consent, and is being investigated further,” the Bank of England said. “The Bank operates the highest standards of information security around the release of the market sensitive decisions of its policy committees. The issue identified related only to the broadcast of press conferences that follow such statements.”

The Bank of England has now referred the issue to the Financial Conduct Authority, who is investigating the matter further.

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