IMF hit by major cyber attack

Posted by Emma Woollacott

The International Monetary Fund has reportedly fallen victim to a massive hacking attack that may have led to confidential national economic data being compromised.

According to the New York Times, the attack took place recently, but over a period of several months. One official told the paper it was "a very major breach".

Indeed, it was so serious that the World Bank cut its computer connection to the IMF in response.

It's unclear what data was accessed. But the IMF holds huge quantities of highly confidental government information - particularly following the economic bail-out of Portugal, Greece and Ireland. The IMF is believed to have told staff to be on the alert for phishing attacks.

The attack doesn't seem to have been linked to the recent hack at RSA Security, which saw the loss of the SecurID tokens used to ensure its clients' security, and which led to the hacking of Lockheed Martin, the US' biggest military contractor.

Nor does it appear to have any connection with the recent arrest of former IMF head Dominique Strauss-Kahn on charges of sexually assaulting a hotel maid.

It's not known where the attack originated, although a source told Bloomberg that the signs point to a national government. China is likely to come under suspicion.

"It seems a single day can't pass without a well-known institution making the headlines for being the victim of a hacking attack or loss of sensitive data," says Graham Cluley of security firm Sophos.