International Monetary Fund Attacked By Hackers

Dennis Faas's picture

It's not unusual these days for the computer systems of major banks to come under attack. But the latest high-profile attempted breach has gone a step further by targeting the International Monetary Fund (IMF), prompting speculation that a national government may be the offender.

The Washington DC-based IMF is an organization that provides loans to governments in financial difficulties. It also helps coordinate the collection and publication of financial data by governments.

Although the International Monetary Fund is releasing few details, it has confirmed there has been a "very major breach." It's believed a hacker was able to get malicious software onto the IMF systems and was attempting to get complete access to its data.

Unnamed National Government May Be To Blame

According to an anonymous source, the breach was carried out by hackers who had a direct link to a national government. It appears likely the idea was to get hold of confidential and sensitive information about the finances of another country. (Source:

The IMF says it believes that this was a phishing attack with a staff member mistakenly clicking on a bogus link, perhaps in an email or on a website, and unwittingly installing the spy software. (Source:

World Bank Links Put On Hold

The International Monetary Fund's systems are now back up and running, but the organization did briefly suspend electronic links with the World Bank as a precaution.

The World Bank provides loans to developing nations for specific projects such as building infrastructure. Because of this, the two organizations often need to share data about a country's finances.

The attack is another example of what appears to be a distinct trend in the motives and tactics of hackers.

Traditional attempts to make cash by stealing personal financial details by scanning personal computers or selling bogus security software, remain popular. But serious hackers appear to have switched to targeting high-value data such as secret details of products in development by businesses, or sensitive information about national defense and finance.

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