The US Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) has announced on late September the creation of two units for its Enforcement Division to combat cyber-based threats and protect the interests of retail investors. The new units are the Retail Strategy Task Force and the Cyber Unit.

According to SEC Enforcement Division co-director, Stephanie Avakian, the units will address the greatest threats confronting investors and the securities industry.

“Cyber-related threats and misconduct are among the greatest risks facing investors and the securities industry. The Cyber Unit will enhance our ability to detect and investigate cyber threats through increasing expertise in an area of critical national importance.”

Brief details about the new units

The Retail Strategy Task Force is mandated to develop proactive and targeted programs to identify illegal activities that adversely affect retail investors. Among such misconducts are the sale of unsuitable structured products and microcap pump-and-dump schemes.

The task force will include SEC enforcement personnel across the country and will collaborate with the agency’s units, including the National Exam Program and the Office of Investor Education and Advocacy.

The Cyber Unit, meanwhile, will focus on identifying and preventing cyber-related misconduct. Among them, there are market manipulation scams through electronic and social media, violations involving distributed ledger technology (DLT) and initial coin offerings (ICO) and cyber-related threats to trading platforms and other critical market infrastructure.

According to SEC Chairman Jay Clayton, the units reflect the agency’s sustained efforts to identify and prevent new forms of misconduct and to safeguard the interests of the Main Street investors.

“When Stephanie and Steve approached me with these initiatives, I endorsed them wholeheartedly.  They reflect the division’s continual efforts to pursue new forms of misconduct while keeping a watchful eye out for our Main Street investors.”

What it means for cryptocurrency market?

Such a move is mainly to help protect the consumers, which means stricter rules and regulations for companies that are looking to raise funds through ICO. It also means clearer grounds for the regulatory body to make necessary charges against companies that do not comply with its set rules.