Unknown attackers have hit the International Monetary Fund, but there's been no indication as to what—if anything—the hackers managed to get their hands on. According to the New York Times, computer experts have labeled the attack "large and sophisticated," a breach in the fund's security so severe that even IMF's partner, the World Bank, severed the data connection between the two institutions in a precautionary measure.
he IMF presents a juicy target for hackers, as it contains a wealth of confidential financial information related to the fiscal dealings of various nations. This includes information related to countries' bailout programs as well as background communications between national leaders attempting to negotiate their way through their countries' financial crises. As one unidentified individual said in an interview with the New York Times, IMF's information could be considered, "political dynamite in many countries."
According to unnamed sources, the attack took place over a number of months. The official IMF line on the ordeal is that the company is not sharing information about the presence or scope of the attack, merely noting that, "We are investigating an incident, and the fund is fully functional," said IMF spokesman David Hawley.
IMF officials have also been unwilling to share where the attack has originated from. It's a touchy subject given that 187 different countries—themselves, almost all members of the United Nations—make up the IMF's ranks. Large attacks like these often make targets unwilling to share information for fear of encouraging those behind the intrusions or otherwise providing them additional information to continue, which could offer a bit of explanation as to why IMF is staying silent.
IMF staff and the fund's board of directors were allegedly briefed about the attacks this past Wednesday. The World Bank temporarily cut the computer link the two institutions use to share data—a measure enacted in the interests of, "an abundance of caution," said an unnamed World Bank spokesman. While the link does allow the two instructions to share non-public information, no confidential financial information is carried over the digital channel.
The World Bank also briefly cut off external access to its systems in the wake of March's infiltration of RSA Security—a hack that allowed attackers to go after the Lockheed Martin Corporation last month. There's no indication that this breach has played any role in the IMF attack.
The FBI plans to assist IMF with its investigation into the digital break-in.