The World Economic Forum said today hackers managed to breach its computer system during its annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland, last week.
The Forum does not yet know who the hackers were, or how they obtained credit card information on some of its members and guests. It is treating the matter as a crime.
This year's attendees included Microsoft Corp. founder Bill Gates, Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, and Japanese Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori.
"We do take this very seriously, and we are going to be investigating this aggressively," Charles McLean, the forum's Director of Communications and Public Affairs, told Reuters. "We at this point have no idea how this information got out. If they could have a security breach at the Pentagon and they can have a security breach at the State Department, it is possible to have a security breach at the World Economic Forum."
Security Tight Outside Conference
McLean confirmed a report about the breach in the Swiss Sunday newspaper Sonntags Zeitung but declined to speculate on whether he thought hackers were connected to the anti-globalization protests. He said he learned of the security breach after being contacted by the newspaper.
The Davos conference is not only a magnet for politicians and business leaders, but also has drawn increasingly large numbers of anti-globalization protesters in the past two years.
Protesters were kept away from the conference this year by extremely tight security, but staged marches in some other cities, including Swiss business and banking center Zurich.
McLean said the paper had been contacted by hackers who showed it the information, which he said might have been taken from the Forum's sign-up center in the alpine resort of Davos.
The information in the Davos computer is kept separate from the Forum's main server at its headquarters in Geneva.