The European Central Bank said Thursday that hackers had broken into one of its databases and stolen information about journalists and others, in what appeared to be part of a blackmail scheme.
The central bank said the information stolen was from people who have registered for central bank events, which include news conferences or gatherings of people from other central banks in Europe or elsewhere. The information contained relatively harmless data such as names, email addresses and telephone numbers.
Still, the incident was embarrassing for an institution that prizes security and confidentiality. The central bank has a trove of highly confidential information such as records of transactions between commercial banks in the eurozone and the central bank, or communications between the ECB and other central banks.
No market-sensitive data was compromised, the central bank said in a statement, adding that the hacked database was part of the public website and was not connected to any other internal systems.
"The ECB takes data security extremely seriously," the central bank said.
The theft was discovered after the bank received an anonymous email Monday seeking money in return for the data. The bank said the German police were investigating the theft, and that its own security experts had addressed the weakness in the database.
A spokeswoman for the Frankfurt prosecutor's office said no arrests had been made in the case. She would not comment on whether authorities had any suspects, or say how much money the hackers were seeking.
Information on at least two International New York Times reporters was among the data stolen, according to emails that the bank sent to the reporters.
© 2014, The New York Times News Service