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Reuters hacks accused of hacking

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Reuters, arguably the world's best known news agency, stands accused of hacking today amid accusations that it broke into the computer systems of Swedish IT group Intentia to publish its results ahead of their official release.

Intentia said it would file criminal charges today after its internal investigation of how its disappointing third quarter figures came to be obtained before their scheduled release pointed the finger of blame at Reuters.

Intentia told the FT that an internal investigation revealed evidence of an "unauthorised entry" into its IT systems "via an IP address belonging to Reuters".

"The entry took place at 12.51pm on October 24. At approximately 12.57pm Reuters published the first news flash giving information on Intentia's third-quarter result without prior confirmation from the company. Intentia issued its earnings report ahead of schedule at 1.22pm on the same day," the company told the paper.

Intentia's share price fell 23 per cent on the day, Bloomberg reports, with news of weaker than expected consultancy sales. They might have fallen the same amount anyway, even if the Reuters report hadn't been published before the official announcement. We'll never know.

Intentia claims that, at the time Reuters accessed them, its results could only be accessed via a 40 character ID code (a bit like dialling out of the US with a calling card, then). This seems to be very cumbersome and you have to wonder if Bjýrn Algkvist, chief executive, who's attributed with the 40 ID code claim, really has a handle of the technical side of things.

Reuters denies the allegation and said it only published Intentia's results when they became available on the Web.

However Intentia isn't alone in its accusations. Three other Scandinavian companies Nordea, the region's biggest bank; Fortum, the Finnish energy group; and Sweco, a small Swedish consultancy also claim that their results were published by Reuters ahead of their official release, the FT reports. ®

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