Hacking raises concerns about Fed safety

The group Anonymous broke into a Federal Reserve internal website Sunday and posted private information about bank executives.

By Aimee Picchi Feb 6, 2013 2:20PM

Image: Federal Reserve Building ( Hisham Ibrahim/Corbis)The Federal Reserve had a busy Super Bowl Sunday. As millions of Americans watched the game, one of its internal websites was breached by the hacker group Anonymous, although no critical functions were affected, according to Reuters.


Anonymous, though, appears to have gained access to the private information of more than 4,000 American bank executives, according to ZDNet.com. It apparently posted the data, and while that has been taken down, a mirror still exists here


While that might tickle the fancy of some U.S. citizens, given the low regard that many have for bankers following the 2008 financial crisis, the attack raises questions about the cyber-security of the U.S. central bank. 


The Fed declined to disclose which website had been hacked, but it appears to be a contact database for banks to use during a natural disaster, Reuters notes. 


The central bank sought to downplay the attack, with a representative for the Fed calling Anonymous' claims "overstated." The representative wouldn't disclose details about the Fed's security systems, but noted that measures to protect the agency against hacks were "absolutely" in place. 


So how concerning is the hack? Given that the bank handles trillions of dollars and bills itself as providing the nation with a "safe, flexible, and stable monetary and financial system," it's worrying. 


Security software company McAfee issued a warning in December that an impending cyber-attack on credit unions, national and local banks and other financial institutions is a "credible threat." 


For its part, Anonymous' motives in attacking the Fed appears to be related to OpLastResort, a campaign started to protest the government's prosecution of Aaron Swartz, who killed himself in January. Swartz is credited with developing the Web feed format RSS and the social news site Reddit, among other accomplishments. 


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