Hacking attack on IMF originated in China, says FBI


US AUTHORITIES investigating a hacking attack on the International Monetary Fund (IMF) have concluded it started in China and was probably connected to the government.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation, which is leading the inquiry, bases its claim on an analysis of the programming code used in the attack, disclosed in June, internet addresses that the infected machines connected to and other evidence, according to a person familiar with the matter.

He did not give further details on the findings, that were first reported by Bloomberg News. China became a suspect within days of the discovery, two people familiar with the case had previously told the Financial Times.

An IMF spokesman said: “We are not prepared to finger-point at this time. We also may never know who perpetrated this cyber attack. However, our efforts to assess the impact and extent of the attack are continuing.” Chinese government representatives could not be contacted for comment.

The suspicion puts pressure on new IMF chief Christine Lagarde, who earlier this month named Zhu Min, former deputy governor of the Chinese central bank, to the top management of the institution.

Former IMF officials said that appointment reflected recognition of China’s growing power in the global economy but also served as a reward for China’s support of Ms Lagarde as a successor to Dominique Strauss-Kahn after he resigned in May amid sex charges.

Even if the FBI’s conclusion is borne out, the case is more likely to be addressed through diplomatic channels than in a court of law. The FBI and US intelligence officials have blamed China for conducting a campaign of cyber espionage against officials and private industry, especially defence contractors and technology firms. Criminal charges have been rare.

In the best known example, Google partially withdrew from mainland China early last year after saying hackers had breached its systems. Google notified many other companies that it had detected similar attacks against those concerns. – (Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2011)