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Hacking Continues: European Central Bank Is the Latest Victim

By Andrew Chow, Esq. | Last updated on

FindLaw columnist Eric Sinrod writes regularly in this section on legal developments surrounding technology and the Internet.

When will it stop? We have been hearing about cyberhacking for years, and rather than hack attacks dropping out of the news, we continue to be inundated with reports of successful hacks. This time the latest victim is the European Central Bank.

Perhaps you are thinking that because hacking is nothing new, methods and technology should have been developed to thwart hackers in their tracks. And it is true, there has been significant progress in this regard.

Unfortunately, as time marches on, the techniques and technological prowess of hackers has advanced too.

Indeed, given that hack attacks at times are still successful, one might wonder whether hackers in certain instances are ahead of those seeking to prevent their mischief. In fairness, from the defensive perspective, it is very difficult to conceive of all potential hack attacks that can be dreamed up and then prevent them, as opposed to a hacker devising one focused, offensive hack attack.

Getting back to the European Central Bank, The New York Times recently reported that hackers had compromised one of the bank's databases and had absconded with information relating to journalists, among others. The information that was taken related to people who had registered for the bank's events, such as news conferences and meetings with persons from other banks. The compromised information included names, email addresses, and phone numbers.

Fortunately, information bearing on transactions and communications between the European Central Bank and other banks reportedly was not jeopardized. Only public website information was compromised, not data contained on internal systems. Still, a successful hack attack on the European Central Bank could make some people nervous, as the bank takes security very seriously.

This hack attack reportedly appears to be part of a blackmail scheme. The European Central Bank discovered the hack after it received an anonymous email that demanded money in exchange for the return of the hacked information. German police are currently conducting an investigation.

Somewhat ironically, while the New York Times publicly has reported this hack attack, included within the information compromised by the hack is data pertaining to two international New York Times reporters.

Regrettably, any rumors of the demise of hacking are premature.

Eric Sinrod (@EricSinrod on Twitter) is a partner in the San Francisco office of Duane Morris LLP, where he focuses on litigation matters of various types, including information technology and intellectual property disputes. You can read his professional biography here. To receive a weekly email link to Mr. Sinrod's columns, please email him at with Subscribe in the Subject line. This column is prepared and published for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. The views expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the author's law firm or its individual partners.

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