June 13th, 2011
07:28 AM GMT
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(CNN) – Another new week, another high profile cyber attack.

The International Monetary Fund suffered a “very major breach,” as first reported Saturday by the New York Times.

Details are sketchy on the attack, which was revealed to IMF employees last week but not made public. The incident reportedly happened before Dominique Strauss-Kahn’s May 14 arrest and his departure as head of the IMF, which assists in global financial crisis and is a repository for highly confidential financial information on its member states – nearly every country in the world.

According to the New York Times, the World Bank cut off its computer link with the IMF out of “an abundance of caution.”

“I can confirm that we are investigating an incident,” IMF spokesperson David Hawley told CNN by e-mail. “I am not in a position to elaborate further on the extent of the cyber-security incident.”

The attack appears to have used “spear phishing” – tricking the end user to click on a link, reveal password information or download a malicious program from a source that appears to be legitimate. The IMF hasn’t revealed any suspicions on who launched the attack.

Spearphishing was used in the recent attack on high-profile Gmail users in the U.S. and South Korean governments, which Google said emanated from mainland China – a charge Beijing denied.

The IMF breach is the latest line of hacking attacks. Last week, CitiBank admitted that the personal details of 210,000 cardholders were stolen. In May, Lockheed Martin said there was a significant attempt to breach the defense contractor’s systems. In March, RSA Security – which makes two-step computer authentication systems – had confidential information stolen.

Sony’s PlayStation Network, Online Entertainment site and Sony Pictures websites have been hacked in the past few weeks; the hack of the PlayStation Network compromised the personal detail of tens of millions of customers and resulted in the network going offline for 23 days. Cost to the company is estimated at $171 million.

The breach of the IMF could have been aimed at stealing sensitive inside information which potentially could have the power to move markets. "The IMF attack was clearly designed to infiltrate the IMF with the intention of gaining sensitive 'insider privileged information'," cyber security specialist Mohan Koo told Reuters.

soundoff (18 Responses)

    Your mom! OH YEA 1st!

    June 13, 2011 at 7:59 am |
  2. alya

    The new trend of manipulation with data base in 21century is to attack important information in the world bank.
    This cyber attack has been made since 2008 to implement the stolen data.The main factors of manipulation is to control the world in the part of economic corners and to keep certain region in hte edge of financial crisis . for instance sison 4 all treaty of the European Union has promoted a citizenships to agroup of criminal wearing eurpopean uniform called al Qeada.
    those viruses has spreaded in several world to implement their plan with manipulation . islamic commnism groups in Europe act according to the culture. if in north africa they act in the street to toppled their leaders. In Europe is to keep hte land their busy with the financial crisis.

    June 13, 2011 at 8:23 am |
  3. Jeremy

    Umm, why would CNN put a shadowy photo of a young, spiky-haired guy with a computer at the top of a story about hacking?

    June 13, 2011 at 8:24 am |
  4. rock

    We seem to have anointed the CIO, CTO, etc. but security is left as an ill addressed adjunct. This is a capital mistake. Security will grow in increasing importance in every developed world company. This is not just the domain of the government, capitalism is the new warfare. http://bit.ly/jpP7eG

    June 13, 2011 at 8:30 am |
  5. desert voice (troubledgoodangel or Nathanael)

    "The breach of the IMF could have been aimed at stealing sensitive inside information which potentially could have the power to move markets." That seems worse what Madoff did, a thousand times worse! For this, there is only one solution: penalty must fit the crime. If the Chinese are found guilty, even If you can't put all China on Ricker's Island, you still can impose upon them a half trillion dollars penalty, collectable by an equal amount of debt cancellation! If they are caught again trying "to move the world markets illegally, another half trillion penalty must be imposed! That will teach China a lesson not to fool around with the global community!

    June 13, 2011 at 8:48 am |
  6. Onwuka

    What do all these institutions have website for access to their confidential data? The software which people use is lame and user discipline is as sloppy as everywhere. Start using proprietary acces tools and use electronic identification tools for access over VPN

    June 13, 2011 at 8:50 am |
  7. maxiiiii

    There is ONLY ONE, TOTAL security, for both 'outsiders' and even insiders... InZeroSystemsdotcom... I was a founder and investor in year 2000 (yes, I got shuffled out of shares as did my partner, the inventor, but my atty is #1 in the world, so that's not a big concern))) and 83 patents and 10 years later, 30 mil have tried to hack and ZERO have touched the monkey's tail... Any Questions... Ahhh, yes, it's kinda expensive for the moment, but it's coming down in costs...

    June 13, 2011 at 9:27 am |
  8. pitbull

    hahaha...........scandals seems to follow this institution.

    June 13, 2011 at 2:15 pm |
  9. jim

    Would love to see the IMF and the Fed ruined. Take the banks with them. We are tired of all the lies and thievery. Interest only causes inflation and deflation.

    June 13, 2011 at 4:38 pm |
  10. jim

    moderation my ...

    June 13, 2011 at 4:39 pm |
  11. jim

    Would love to see the IMF and the Fed ruined. Take the banks with them. We are tired of all the lies and thievery.

    June 13, 2011 at 4:40 pm |
  12. CNN

    Why is CNN excluding Governor Gary Johnson from participating in the presidential debate? A lot of people (hundreds of thousands) would like to know?

    June 13, 2011 at 5:33 pm |
  13. noobalisk

    they fell for phishing??? well i have to say they deserved to be hacked...

    June 13, 2011 at 7:24 pm |
  14. jane dough

    to all whom are sick and tired of this money control of behavior and actions of others just because they have the power of the money to do so, well the buck stops here. To all who have trying to control other peoples behavior to conform to their beliefs which are highly repressive to all others, your day of reckoning is here. No longer will the masses of free speech and action be subject to your wims. No longer will be slaves to your opposite views, no longer will your control of the laws to suppress freedom of speech and behavior be valid or have weight to rule others. Your end is here and you will be exposed for all to see via the internet. Your time is over and the abolishion of monies control is at hand. Good day and Goodbye forever.

    June 13, 2011 at 8:27 pm |

    The IMF is designed to keep the third world poor and keep Europe and the US in the drivers seat. The hell with them let them hack the crap out of them rich out of touch playboy fools. Egomaniac testosterone fueled jerks the IMF is a criminal organisation made legal by the rich and powerful of this planet I cant think of a better target...

    June 13, 2011 at 8:34 pm |
  16. BT

    Hmmm... remember '80s movies about high school students hacking into their school computer systems and changing their grades? Maybe Greece is trying to erase their IMF debts the quickest way possible? (Half kidding...).

    June 13, 2011 at 9:17 pm |
  17. Undeniable

    CNN must not like techno-Emo guys.

    June 14, 2011 at 12:31 am |
  18. icons download

    Prompt, whom I can ask?

    November 4, 2012 at 2:58 pm |

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