Financial and Business|

IMF Hit with Major Hacker Breach

International Monetary Fund (IMF)The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has revealed that it was hit with a serious cyber attack that resulted in some systems being compromised and used to get internal data. Experts say that the source appeared to be a ‘nation state’ wanting to have a ‘digital insider presence’ on the inter-governmental group, which brings 187 member countries together and oversees the global financial system.

Cyber security expert Tom Kellerman, who has worked for the IMF and the World Bank, as well as serves on the International Cyber Security Protection Alliance, said that the hacking could have supplied a lot of non-public economic data used by the group to provide resources to remedy balance-of-payments crises, support an international trade balance and promote the stability of exchange rates. This attack was targeted, he added, as the code that was used had been specifically developed to attack the group.

News about the attack emerged on June 8 in an internal memo issued by IMF chief information officer Jonathan Palmer. He told workers that suspicious file transfers were detected and that a probe into the hacking found that a desktop computer was compromised to get access to some Fund systems. He noted that he didn’t believe the attacker sought any personal information for fraud purposes.

This pointed to a cyber attack that sought to get more access to the group’s computers, and experts have been cited saying that the systems were under attack for several months. The World Bank says that it cut off its network connection with the institution as a precaution in this latest attack – despite the information shared being non-sensitive. The IMF maintains that it’s operating without any issues while the FBI conducts an investigation.

This hacking is certain to raise concerns about low-level cyber warfare waged by governments for industrial and economic espionage reasons. This has grown already recently with announcements from Chancellor George Osborne about attacks on the Treasury, as well as Defence Secretary Liam Fox about a prolonged attack on the Ministry of Defence. It also emerged earlier this year that computers at the finance ministry in France had been attacked and data was silently being redirected to Chinese websites – this was believed to be an effort to steal documents in relation to the G20 summit in February.

These aren’t the only attacks that have been going on since there have been more of these attacks with a higher level of seriousness over the last 2 years. Google found at the end of 2009 that it was under attack from hackers in China, who were seeking high-level access to its systems and targeted the email accounts of dissidents. There were also several other military and financial organisations attacked about the same time. Then last month Google revealed the detection of phishing attacks from China trying to get the login details of US government officials. Senior executives at the company believe the Chinese government orchestrated the attack, but China denies this.

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