After elaborate hack, Business Wire hires Robert Markel as chief information security officer

He is responsible for all of the company's security-related systems, policies and procedures, network infrastructure, and protection strategies.

Robert Markel
Robert Markel

SAN FRANCISCO: Business Wire has hired Virgin America’s Robert Markel as chief information security officer following the discovery this summer of a hack at the press release distributor.

He is reporting to Business Wire CEO Cathy Baron Tamraz and is responsible for all of the company’s security-related systems, policies and procedures, network infrastructure, and protection strategies.

Business Wire marketing VP Scott Fedonchik told PRWeek via email that Markel’s role is not newly created, but did not disclose the name of Markel’s predecessor.

Markel was not immediately available for comment.

He joined Business Wire from Virgin America, where he served since 2012 as director of information security. Before that, Markel was Deem’s senior manager of information security for nearly six years, according to his LinkedIn profile.

After the Securities and Exchange Commission charged 32 individuals this summer with hacking press releases on Business Wire and rival services and trading on their not-yet-public information, Business Wire said cybersecurity is its top concern.

Baron Tamraz explained in a statement at the time that the company devotes substantial resources annually to security, including multiple audits by leading industry consultants. Business Wire also said then that it hired a prominent cybersecurity firm to test its systems and ensure its network is fully operational and secure.

Other release distributors such as Marketwired and PR Newswire were also penetrated as part of an elaborate scheme in which hackers and traders gained access to statements on not-yet-public mergers and acquisitions via wire services to trade on the information, according to reports.

The SEC charged 32 people for taking part in the scheme, including two Ukrainian men who allegedly hacked into the newswire services. Ivan Turchynov and Oleksandr Ieremenko were the alleged ringleaders of the scheme, using "advanced techniques" to hack into two or more release-distributors over a five-year period, according to the SEC. The data was given to 30 other defendants who traded on it, making more than $100 million in illegal profits, according to the government agency.

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