As if it didn't have enough to deal with already, the International Monetary Fund admitted to staff on Wednesday that it was the victim of a "large and sophisticated cyberattack," one that occurred over the last few months and led to a "very major breach."
The IMF still hasn't made a public announcement, and would only say to The New York Times that it's "investigating an incident, and the fund is fully functional." But sources told the Times that the attack was "sophisticated and serious," and led the fund to cut the link that allowed it and the World Bank to share confidential information. Gee, what kind of data could a hacker potentially access?
Because the fund has been at the center 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 attack, for what it's worth, happened before former chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn was arrested and accused of sexually assaulting a hotel maid last month.
[NYT; image, of acting head John Lipsky, via AP]