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Computer hackers have attacked the website of the European Central Bank, stealing email addresses and phone numbers. The lender denied that any sensitive financial data had been compromised.
The hackers tried to extort money from one of the bank's online databases after stealing around 20,000 email addresses and phone numbers, the ECB revealed Thursday.
It said the criminals had focused their attack on the bank's email distribution lists for journalists and participants of events organized by the Frankfurt-based institution.
"The theft came to light after an anonymous email was sent to the ECB seeking financial compensation for the stolen data," the bank said in a statement.
Hastening to defuse speculation that internal systems or market-sensitive data could have been compromised, the ECB explained that the hackers had targeted a database that serviced the bank's public website and was kept separate from other, more sensitive areas.
The bank said it was contacting anyone whose email address or other data may have been stolen, but added that all passwords on its system had been changed as a precaution.
"German police have been informed about the theft, and an investigation is under way," the bank said.
hg/cjc (dpa, AFP)