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IMF cyber attack risks could cause crisis

IMF cyber attack risks could cause crisis

(14 June 2011 – Global) The International Monetary Fund (IMF) was hit recently by what experts say is a large sophisticated cyber attack. The fund, which manages financial crises around the world and is the repository of highly confidential information about the fiscal condition of many nations, told its staff and board of directors about the attack last Wednesday. But it made no public announcement.

''This was a very major breach,'' said one official, who said that it had occurred over the last several months, even before Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the French politician who ran the fund, was arrested on charges of sexually assaulting a chamber maid in a New York hotel.

Spokesman David Hawley said: ''We are investigating an incident, and the fund is fully functional."

Because the fund has been at the centre of economic bailout programs for Portugal, Greece and Ireland - and possesses sensitive data on other countries that may be on the brink of crisis - its database contains potentially market-moving information. It also includes communications with national leaders as they negotiate, often behind the scenes, on the terms of international bailouts.

Those agreements are, in the words of one fund official, ''political dynamite in many countries''. It was unclear what information the attackers were able to access.

The concern about the attack was so significant that the World Bank, whose headquarters are across the street from the IMF in Washington, cut the computer link over which the two institutions share information.
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