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IMF attack highlights need for greater vigilance

Simon Quicke
The revelation that one of the leading global financial organisations has been targeted by hackers will add to the growing number of examples resellers can draw on to encourage customers to take threats more seriously.

Over the weekend the International Monetary Fund (IMF) became the latest global organisation to reveal that it had been targeted by a 'nation-state attack'.

Although the details of the IMF attack remain sketchy it was described as sophisticated and the hack was designed to infiltrate desktops as a way of getting deeper into the network.

The attack is being investigated by the FBI and the World Bank has suspended network links between itself and the IMF.

Since Google first raised the alarm a couple of years ago that it had been the victim of a nation-state attack, it believed backed by the Chinese government, there have been an increasing number of cases including recently the Foreign Office and major US government contractor Lockheed Martin.

"As yet another high profile organisation falls victim to a data breach we are once again forced to question whether it is actually possible to protect data from hackers," said Ross Brewer, vice president and managing director for international markets at LogRhythm.

"The sheer number of headline grabbing incidents suggests that attempts to prevent cyber attacks from occurring in the first place may be ineffective and that a new approach is required," he added.

One of the immediate reactions though is to call for greater vigilance, with resellers playing a role to educate and advise customers, to ensure that staff and systems are on alert for potential attacks.

Already this year there have been a large number of nation-state attacks, which are often referred to as advanced persistent threats (APTs), and the warnings have already been sounded by some of the victims.

When it was hit by an attack earlier this year, RSA executive chairman Art Coviello, wrote an open letter to customers warning that APTs were on the rise and were a consideration all enterprise customers had to think about.

"APT threats are becoming a significant challenge for all large corporations, and it's a topic I have discussed publicly many times. As appropriate, we will share our experiences from these attacks with our customers, partners and the rest of the security vendor ecosystem and work in concert with these organizations to develop means to better protect all of us from these growing and ever more sophisticated forms of cyber security threat," he wrote.


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