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Sunday, June 12, 2011

IMF Hacked; No End in Sight to Security Horror Shows | PCWorld

IMF Hacked; No End in Sight to Security Horror Shows

Graphic: Diego AguirreThe recent online intrusion into International Monetary Fund servers may have been the work of malicious hackers working for a foreign government, according to online reports.

The IMF is reportedly reluctant to disclose where it believes the attacks came from since 187 of the world's 194 nations (as recognized by the U.S. Department of State) are members of the fund. The hack's perpetrators obtained a "large quantity of data," including e-mail and other documents during the intrusion, according to Bloomberg.

The attacks reportedly began before May 14 when IMF Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn was arrested in New York on sexual assault charges.

The IMF provides, among other functions, economic assistance and policy advice to nations in financial distress to help stabilize the global economy. That means the global agency has, as The New York Times recently reported, "highly confidential information about the fiscal condition of many nations." As such, the IMF's files contain "political dynamite" that could affect global markets, according to the Times. It's not clear if the data stolen from the IMF was particularly sensitive.

Spear Phishing

How hackers were able to penetrate the IMF's network is still unknown. But it appears the intrusion may have been the result of a spear phishing attack. This kind of attack typically works by tricking an employee into clicking on a link to a malicious website or downloading a file loaded with malware.

The IMF is not alone in falling victim to an online hack. In fact, the agency is just the latest in a string of high-profile attacks against corporations and organizations such as Google, Sony, Lockheed Martin, RSA Security, and CitiGroup. Here's a look at other high profile online break-ins and foiled attacks that are turning 2011 into the Year of the Malicious Hacker.


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