Money Matters - Simplified

IMF hacked, loss of vital data feared

Internal memos of the IMF which were obtained by the Bloomberg asked the employees of the fund to be cautious as one of their systems had been “compromised.”

The New York Times reported yesterday that the computer system of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has become the victim of a hacking attack.

The fund is presently managing financial crisis in several countries across the world and its database contains sensitive information about these economies.

Though the extent of damage has not been revealed by the international agency, the attacks are being described as “large” and “sophisticated” by cyber security experts.

IMF attacks serious
The officials aware of the attacks termed it as serious. “This was a very major breach,” said one of the officials.

The attack is said to have taken place before the arrest of French Politician Dominique Strauss Kahn, IMF's former managing director, on the charges of assaulting a hotel maid in New York.

Internal memos of the IMF which were obtained by the Bloomberg asked the employees of the fund to be cautious as one of their systems had been “compromised.”

An e-mail written on June 8 by the chief information officer of IMF, Jonathan Palmer, read, “Last week we detected some suspicious file transfers, and the subsequent investigation established that a Fund desktop computer has been compromised and used to access some fund systems. At this point, we have no reason to believe that any personal information was sought for fraud purposes.”

Earlier another e-mail by IMF's IT department warned employees saying, “Staff are strongly requested NOT TO OPEN emails and video links without authenticating the source.”

Employees have also been asked to change their RSA SecurID tokens.

Not much details are available about the attack
When asked about the reports of a cyber attack, David Hawley, spokesman of the IMF, just said, “The fund is fully functional. We are investigating an incident. I am not in a position to elaborate further on the extent of the cyber-security incident.” He declined to comment further.

Currently, the fund is handling economic bailout programs for Portugal, Ireland and Greece.

Apart from that IMF has financial data of many countries. This includes details of negotiations with leaders of states about the terms of the bailout packages. Normally these negotiations are highly confidential.

Hence, a lot of information with the fund is potentially market moving.

The officials of the IMF declined to comment when they were asked as to who could be behind this attack. The issue is a sensitive one as most of the countries of the world are members of the fund.