Mario Draghi, president of the European Central Bank. Picture: REUTERS
Mario Draghi, president of the European Central Bank. Picture: REUTERS

Rome — Mario Draghi, president of the European Central Bank (ECB), and former Italian prime minister Matteo Renzi were among the targets of a cyber-spying operation that sought to hack into e-mail accounts at the ECB and the Bank of Italy, according to two people familiar with the investigation.

Operation "Eye Pyramid" exposed cyber-spying of institutions, state agencies, professionals, political figures and business people lasting for years, Italian police said on Tuesday. It was not clear, though, what information the suspects obtained in their
hacking attacks.

Two people were arrested, police said: a nuclear engineer and his sister, both living in Rome and well-known in Roman financial circles.

The suspects tried to obtain confidential and sensitive data, especially on banks, at the ECB in Frankfurt and at the Bank of Italy in Rome, according to another person with information.

The ECB, Renzi’s Democratic Party and the Bank of Italy declined to comment.

The two arrested were suspected of obtaining information on national security, serious illegal access to a computer system and illicit interception of computer communications in an investigation led by Rome prosecutors, the police statement said.

Thanks to a wide network of computers infected with malware called "Eyepyramid", the pair allegedly obtained "confidential information and sensitive data" that was stored on US servers, from a large number of victims "over many years", the police statement said.

Strategic Data

Italian police, working with the cyber division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), have seized the servers, it added. An official at the US embassy in Rome declined to comment on behalf of the FBI.

The network targeted individuals who possessed particularly sensitive or strategic data, or "of particular value for those working in specific financial circles", the statement said.

Among those spied on were political figures in an electronic file with the name "Pobu" short for "politicians business", the Italian police statement added.

Bloomberg

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