Report: Hackers Say Attack Was Easy

Monday, February 12th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

GENEVA (AP) — Computers hackers who obtained confidential information about people who have attended World Economic Forum meetings say it was easy to do, a Swiss newspaper reported Sunday.

A week after reporting that hackers had gained access to data on 27,000 prominent figures, the Zurich weekly SonntagsZeitung posted on its Web site the names of victims and the type of information that was taken from each.

The hackers discovered former President Clinton's forum password and actor Dustin Hoffman's e-mail address, said the newspaper, whose list did not include the confidential numbers themselves.

Its sample of what was stolen from whom also included Microsoft chairman Bill Gates' e-mail address, founder Jeff Bezos' telephone number and a credit card number of Pepsi-Cola CEO Peter M. Thompson.

``It was just lying there offering itself in a show window,'' SonntagsZeitung quoted an unidentified member of a hacker group calling itself Virtual Monkeywrench as saying.

The group said the attack was an attempt to destabilize the forum, an annual gathering that draws business and political leaders to Davos, Switzerland to discuss international economic issues and exchange calling cards.

This year's meeting was held at the end of January and was attended by more than 3,000 guests.

For some prominent figures — including Clinton, Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and Russian President Vladimir Putin — the compromised data was apparently limited to their passwords for the forum.

The newspaper said the list came from a CD-ROM it received from the hackers that included were 800,000 pages of data. The interview was conducted in writing through an intermediary, it said.

World Economic Forum spokesman Charles McLean said last week that hackers had obtained ``proprietary data like credit card numbers'' of 1,400 people who attended regional meetings of the forum last year.

McLean dismissed the 27,000 figure as simply the circulation of the forum's magazine and said some of the well-known figures the newspaper reported had been compromised — including Clinton — were not.

McLean criticized the SonntagsZeitung's publication of the names and partial data Sunday.

``They are trafficking in stolen material, and using it to sell newspapers,'' McLean told The Associated Press.

He said the newspaper had refused the forum's request that all copies of the data be returned, and said the organization was weighing its legal options. The forum filed a complaint last week, and authorities in Geneva are investigating.

The forum, a foundation set up 30 years ago to run the annual meetings, has been increasingly targeted by activists who say it is an exclusive club acting in the interests of big business and against the world's poor.

This year's meeting drew thousands of real live protesters to Switzerland, where some clashed with police.


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