Cyber Attack: Hacking Into the IMF

♠ Posted by Emmanuel in at 6/12/2011 08:00:00 PM
Being rather underwhelmed about former IMF Deputy Managing Director and current Bank of Israel Governor Stanley Fischer going for the top job (has holds both US and Israeli citizenships), let's talk about IMF hacking instead of Asian financial crisis-era dinosaurs. These sorts of attacks are usually said to emanate from China or Russia, so you have to wonder: in theory, what exactly do these FX reserve-heavy nations have to gain from hacking into the IMF? Certainly there is not much for them to gain with respect to themselves in terms of preparing for IMF responses to balance-of-payments crises which are unlikely to befall them.

To me, there are no obvious attractions here for hackers: this entity does not hold consumer financial data or corporate proprietary information. Then again, Russia which always keeps tabs on its neighbours might value more information on the conditions of recent IMF clients Belarus and Ukraine, or to a lesser extent Hungary or Latvia. That for borrowers aside, proprietary information may not be all that unique insofar as Article IV consultations are always publicly released despite often being quite massaged. Go figure. Whodunit?
But in the case of the I.M.F., officials declined to say where they believe the attack originated — a delicate subject because most nations are members of the fund. The attacks were likely to have been made possible by a technique known as “spear phishing,” in which an individual is fooled into clicking on a malicious Web link or running a program that allows open access to the recipient’s network. It is also possible that the attack was less specific, a case in which an intruder was testing the system merely to see what was available.
The BBC also has some footage on the hacking attack. Verging on the improbable, maybe China is curious as to whether the time is nigh for mounting a palace coup in providing the largest share of IMF funding. In that case, IMF headquarters would be headed for Beijing, remember. Or less outlandishly, perhaps the PRC, another country, or a group of countries is interested in further understanding processes of succession?