Massive IMF cyberattack ‘was state-backed’, say sources

International Monetary Fund seal

IMF seal

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org
A massive and sophisticated cyberattack that targeted the computer systems of the International Monetary Fund last month was “linked to a foreign government”, according to sources familiar with the incident. The IMF, an international institution which oversees financial crises around the world, revealed the security breach in an internal email sent last week, but has yet to make a public announcement about the incident. Although the cyberattack was not publicly announced, it was revealed last weekend by The New York Times, which cited a “security expert […] familiar with the incident”. The paper notes that IMF’s computer databases function as “a repository of highly confidential information about the fiscal condition of many nations”, and that they contain “potentially market-moving information”. British daily The Independent adds that “internal political opponents and foreign intelligence services could […] find [in the IMF databases] explosive information about government dealings with the fund”. Intriguingly, the attack occurred in the weeks prior to the arrest of the Fund’s Director, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, who was detained on American soil on charges of sexually assaulting a female worker at his luxury New York hotel. According to Bloomberg, the “state-based intrusion” was aimed at the theft of a “large quantity” of confidential information, “including documents and emails”. The Wall Street Journal reports that the attack, which was launched through a compromised laptop, involved significant prior “reconnaissance” by the hackers, as well as programming code “written specifically to penetrate the IMF”. The resulting cyberattack caused “a very major breach”, according to one anonymous official cited in reports, and caused the IMF to briefly terminate external connectivity to its network to avoid further data theft. Publicly, the Fund, as well as the FBI, which is investigating the incident, have remained silent about the details of the cyberattack. IMF spokesman David Hawley simply told inquiring media that the Fund is “investigating an incident”.

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About intelNews
Expert news and commentary on intelligence, espionage, spies and spying, by Dr. Joseph Fitsanakis and Ian Allen.

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