A recent comment from an unnamed security expert to Bloomberg has indicated that like the recent attempt on Google's Gmail service, the recently revealed cyber attack on the International Monetary Fund (IMF) could have been state sponsored.
While not stating which country's government was responsible, the source reportedly confirmed to Bloomberg that the "intrusion was state-based".
The attack on the IMF
News of the attack first came to light when the IMF reportedly told its staff that it had detected suspicious file transfers on its networks.
The IMF has since been tight-lipped regarding the details of the security breach, though speaking to the New York Times the fund's representatives have confirmed that the attack happened earlier this year and had resulted in "a very major breach".
The hack was designed to install malicious software that would create a "digital insider presence", allowing the hackers access to all the fund's sensitive financial data.
Security experts have already speculated that the attack may have targeted certain key individuals using malware, spear phishing tactics.
These attacks bombard their victims with emails containing suspect weblinks, which when clicked grant the hacker access to the user's network.
Similarities to Google
Google reported a similar attack on its Gmail email service late last month.
A report subsequently issued by Google indicated that certain users of the company's Gmail service were similarly targeted using malware and spear phishing emails. The accounts targeted reportedly included those of senior U.S. government officials as well as Chinese activists and journalists.
Since reporting the attack, Google went on to reveal that it had traced the source of the cyber attack to the Shandong Province of central China.
The attempted hack was not the first time Google has had problems with the region. Shandong was the same province the company traced as the origin point of a previous cyber attack on its computer systems back in 2009. It also suffered another "serious" cyber attack on its source code back in 2010.
The exact location of the hackers behind the assault on Google's Gmail service has since been reported as Jinan, the capital of China's eastern Shandong province.
Jinan has been the subject of global scrutiny before. The city is home to one of the People's Liberation Army's six technical reconnaissance bureaus and a technical college that is commonly suspected of playing a role in 2009's attack on Google.
China has since adamantly denied all involvement in any covert cyber activity.
Was the recent cyber attack on the IMF state sponsored?
Until the trustworthiness of Bloomberg's source, or a statement from the IMF or FBI confirms the "experts" claims, it's difficult to know whether the raid was in fact government sponsored.
Even Google, despite the large amounts of ill-will between it and China, never went so far as to directly accuse the Chinese Government.
But, in the U.K. both Chanceller of Exchequer George Osbourne and Defence Secretary Liam Fox have hinted at similar goverment sponsored campaigns against parts of the U.K. As a part of this both the U.K. and U.S. have begun cyber defence programmes designed to counter the growing threat.
If there is any truth to the Osborne and Fox's claims, the report from Bloomberg certainly isn't beyond the realms of possibility.