Foreign government behind IMF breach and data theft?

The International Monetary Fund’s systems have been breached by cyber attackers believed to be linked to a unnamed foreign government.

According to the NYT, the hack hasn’t yet been confirmed by the IMF, but news about it surfaced after a internal memo warning about the breach and instructing caution has been sent to IMF employees and its board of directors.

So far, it is known that the attack predates the Dominique Strauss-Kahn (IMF’s managing director) sex scandal by several months, and that the World Bank has cut off its computer link to the IMF’s networks as a precaution – even though its users are unable to access sensitive data in both systems.

A security expert familiar with the details of the breach said that a “large quantity” of data was stolen, including documents and emails.

The internal alert sent to IMF employees asked them to verify the source of emails opening them or clicking on video links. They were also warned about potential phishing attacks via email. The warning seems to point towards the method used by the attackers to gain access to the organization’s systems.

According to ars technica, the memo says that the breach was discovered two weeks ago after the detection of suspicious file transfers linked to a compromised computer within the IMF. The memo also said that the attack seems not to have been executed by Anonymous, and that (compromised) SecurID tokens were not used to mount it.

The IMF systems hold important and extremely sensitive data about the finances of its 187 member countries and the various negotiations between those countries and the IMF. It is believed that the retrieval of that data was the ultimate goal of the attack.

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