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Hackers target Davos
February 5, 2001: 11:06 a.m. ET

Hackers reportedly obtained personal information from Davos conference
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NEW YORK ( - Anti-globalization computer hackers have infiltrated the computer systems of the World Economic Forum and stolen personal information of most of the participants in the Forum's recent annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland, the WEF has confirmed.

The hack was first reported on Sunday by the Swiss newspaper SonntagsZeitung. The paper says it has received anonymously, but clearly from the Forum's opponents a compact disc containing 161MB of data apparently copied from the Forum's own Web server. graphic

The disc is said to include a list of 27,000 names, some of which are paired with data such as e-mail addresses and phone numbers; another list of 1,400 credit card numbers and names; and spreadsheets detailing the travel schedules, hotel accomodations, session registrations and payments, and Web site passwords of all the 3,200 participants in this year's meeting, which took place from January 25 to 30.

If the details of the hack are confirmed, the case would be particularly sensitive, because participants in the Forum's meeting included top CEOs like Bill Gates (Microsoft), Tim Koogle (Yahoo) and Jean-Marie Messier (Vivendi) as well as public figures such as the UN's Secretary General Kofi Annan and Israel's Shimon Peres.

In the whole, more than 3,000 top managers and entrepreneurs, bankers, politicians, members of nongovernmental organizations, artists, scholars and journalists participated in this year's meeting.

  This is a case of cybercrime and we've immediately alerted the Swiss police.  
  Charles McLean, World Economic Forum spokesman  
The event stirred huge controversy because of demonstrations staged by anti-globalization movements. In the recent past, these groups had troubled other meetings in Melbourne, Prague and, most notably, Seattle, where last year they blocked a gathering of the World Trade Organization. This is, however, the first known case of anti-globalization computer piracy.

Some of these data, in particular internal schedules and planning documents as well as flight details (without identification) have also been released on the Independent Media's Web site. There is no report so far of malicious use of the stolen information, indicating that the hacking was probably staged as a display of technological ability by the activists.

CNN Special: Davos 2001

Charles McLean, the WEF's director of communication, confirmed the newspaper's story: "This is a case of cybercrime", he said, "and we've immediately alerted the Swiss police". The Forum plans to inform its members on Monday, as soon as the events have been elucidated.

Sources within the WEF told The Standard that the internal databases have not been tampered with, and that specialists are at work in Geneva, where the Forum is headquartered, to verify the facts and to identify the nature and the extent of the stolen information. graphic