Printer Blames Hacking Attack for Release of Hong Kong Filings

Hong Kong Exchanges Denies Report of Printer Hacking Attack
Hong Kong Exchanges suffered two days of attacks on its website by hackers almost exactly one year before Sunday’s error. Photographer: Jerome Favre/Bloomberg

The erroneous filing of three documents under the wrong companies’ tickers on the Hong Kong Exchanges & Clearing Ltd. news website on Aug. 12 may have been caused by hackers, the printing company involved said.

An unidentified person or people uploaded several documents without authorization, A.Plus Financial Press Ltd. said in an e-mailed statement yesterday. The company said it immediately informed the exchange and Hong Kong police.

The e-mail contradicts earlier statements by Hong Kong Exchanges, the second-largest bourse operator by market value, which had said errors at the printer, not hackers, were behind the mistake. The printer called earlier comments about the incident “untrue rumors.”

Lijun International Pharmaceutical Holding Ltd. was suspended from trading yesterday after its first-half financial data were released in error. Lijun is scheduled to resume trading today after publishing estimated earnings in a filing yesterday, with a request that shareholders and potential investors ignore the unauthorized release. The police are investigating the incident, the company said.

Exchanges and their trading systems are under scrutiny after computer errors halted transactions on parts of the Tokyo Stock Exchange twice this year and an automatic-trading malfunction drove Knight Capital Group to the brink of bankruptcy. Hong Kong Exchanges suffered two days of attacks on its website by hackers almost exactly one year before the Aug. 12 error.

This time, “the issue was not with our system, there were mistakes made at the printer,” Henry Law, the bourse’s head of corporate communications, said by telephone yesterday. “The issue is one of internal control at the printers and at the listed companies who have to authorize publication of the documents.”

Mistaken Upload

While the printer has blamed hackers, Law said the company uploaded the wrong information by mistake.

There are safeguards in place to prevent erroneous publication of filings on Hong Kong Exchanges’ system, Law said. Printers have a code for accessing the system and cannot upload without the concerned company also entering its unique access code as a final authorization, he said.

The bourse’s shares rose 0.8 percent to HK$107.60 yesterday in Hong Kong. The city’s benchmark Hang Seng Index climbed 1.1 percent.

Lijun International said in a filing on Aug. 13 that the communications hadn’t been authorized by its board. Lijun said it was told by the printer that the issue was due to “an information security failure” that may have involved the upload of passwords from other listed companies, according to the statement.

In addition to the Lijun publication, documents relating to a takeover of G-Prop Holdings Ltd. were published under Natural Dairy N.Z. Holdings Ltd.’s ticker.

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