Fed still gauging extent of hacker breach, FBI on case

Fri Feb 8, 2013 12:54am EST
 
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By Alister Bull and Jim Finkle and Rick Rothacker

Feb 7 (Reuters) - The U.S. Federal Reserve said on Thursday it was still working to determine the extent its computer systems had been breached by hackers, adding that the incident was the subject of a criminal probe by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

"We are in the process of a comprehensive assessment to determine what information might have been obtained in this incident," said Federal Reserve spokesman Jim Strader. "We remain confident that this incident did not affect critical operations of the Federal Reserve."

The online intrusion, which has embarrassed the U.S. central bank and raised questions about the effectiveness of its security, was publicized on Sunday by activist group Anonymous.

The integrity of the Fed's systems is vital to ensure confidence in its ability to securely transmit highly confidential information, including communications about U.S. monetary policy and the banks that it supervises.

The Fed statement on Thursday was its first explicit acknowledgment that it did not yet know the extent of the security breach. Cyber-security specialists say it takes time to thoroughly investigate a stealthy intrusion by skilled hackers.

Anonymous claimed that it had published personal information from more than 4,000 U.S. bank executives gleaned from a password-protected Fed website.

The website, called the Emergency Communication System (ECS), exists to provide bank contact information in the event of a natural or other disaster. It is managed by the St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank.

A message sent by the Fed to ECS users and obtained by Reuters on Tuesday warned that personal information, including mobile and business telephone numbers, email and business addresses, had been obtained by the online intruders.   Continued...

 
A view shows the Federal Reserve building on the day it is scheduled to release minutes of the Federal Open Market Committee from August 1, 2012, in Washington August 22, 2012. REUTERS/Larry Downing