Friday, November 14, 2008

International Monetary Fund Allegedly Hacked - And It's Not News

The International Monetary Fund: A global financial organization, that secures financial stability, facilitates international trade, and reduces poverty around the world. And, an organization with no cyber-security issues. At all. Officially.

The IMF in Trouble? Can't be True! It Would Have Been in the News!

I learned something disturbing today.

American financial institutions are in trouble. Some have collapsed. Congress passed a huge bail-out. The American automobile industry says that it's going down, and needs a bail-out, too.

The trouble is global. There's a financial crisis going on around the world.

That's not what I learned, that was disturbing. I mean, it's bad: but that information has been in the news for quite a while.

What got my attention that it looks like another major international financial institution has been hacked: the International Monetary Fund, this time.

What sort of data was accessed, and how much isn't at all clear. And, the International Monetary Fund, or IMF, says that there wasn't any security breach, they don't have any spyware in their computers, and we should all pay no attention. I'm sure the IMF spokesperson was much more urbane and sophisticated about it, but that seems to be the gist of the IMF's official take on the matter.

World Bank Has Company: International Monetary Fund Hacked, Too

Unless you're paying rather close attention, you may have missed that the World Bank's computer network security was breached. About six times. Starting in 2007.1

Now, it's the International Monetary Fund's turn.

The IMF's been hacked, apparently. And, so far, only one news service has written about it.

International Monetary Fund: Another Pretty Big Deal

The International Monetary Fund's about us page describes the IMF as
  • An organization of 185 countries
  • Working to foster global monetary cooperation
  • Securing financial stability
  • Facilitating international trade
  • Promoting high employment and sustainable economic growth
  • Reducing poverty around the world
In short, a rather big deal in the global economy.

And, it looks like somebody's gotten into their computer network, and planted spyware. That would make two of the world's major international financial institutions that have been hacked.

Whoever breached security could be anyone: a 12-year-old kid in Brooklyn, a bored college student, someone getting inside information for one of the representatives at the big financial summit that's starting right about now. Maybe even terrorists.

Especially now, scrambling the world economy by outing very private financial information might do more damage than a thousand suicide bombers.

International Monetary Fund Allegedly Hacked on the Eve of Global Financial Summit - And This Isn't News?!

So far (7:45 p.m. Central time, America, or 01:45 UTC), only one news service has written anything about spyware in the IMF's computers.

I don't know what the explanation is. The same sort of thing happened, or rather didn't happen, when the World Bank's network was hacked. Six times. Eventually, a handful of news services, and PC World, wrote about the incidents.

I think it's possible, maybe possible, that FOXNews lacks the deference toward international institutions that traditional news services seem to have.

From The New York Times to CNN, I get the impression that news editors assume that the sun rises in the east and sets in the west, and that the United Nations and other great international agencies for the common good deserve admiration and respect, rather than scrutiny.

Unlike the World Bank security breaches, the IMF's claim that there's nothing to see here may be right. Or, the International Monetary Fund's brass may be desperately hoping that they can bluff their way through, until this embarrassing little disclosure goes away.

Me? I'm glad that there are reporters and editors out there who aren't on the same page as old-school American journalists.

In the news: Background:
1 The World Bank describes itself as "a vital source of financial and technical assistance to developing countries around the world...," and has more to say in its About Us section.

And, they're right: there' a pretty big deal, globally. Particularly for countries that aren't well-off, and are trying to change that condition.

I'd have thought that a half-dozen security breaches in a global financial institution would be news: but I'm not a news editor. I've posted about the World Bank cyberattack before:

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Note! Although I believe that these websites and blogs are useful resources for understanding the War on Terror, I do not necessarily agree with their opinions. 1 1 Given a recent misunderstanding of the phrase "useful resources," a clarification: I do not limit my reading to resources which support my views, or even to those which appear to be accurate. Reading opinions contrary to what I believed has been very useful at times: sometimes verifying my previous assumptions, sometimes encouraging me to change them.

Even resources which, in my opinion, are simply inaccurate are sometimes useful: these can give valuable insights into why some people or groups believe what they do.

In short, It is my opinion that some of the resources in this blogroll are neither accurate, nor unbiased. I do, however, believe that they are useful in understanding the War on Terror, the many versions of Islam, terrorism, and related topics.