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Chinese hackers targeted New York Times for four months

Posting in Government


The New York Times reported that for the last four months, the company's computer system has been repeatedly attacked by hackers originating in China.

The attacks occurred during reporting for a Times investigation, published October 25, showing that the relatives of Chinese prime minister Wen Jiabao had accumulated several billion dollars in business transactions.

The Times stopped the attackers by tracking their work and then setting up systems to expel them and prevent them from breaking back in.

The methods used by the hackers were ones that have been associated with the Chinese military previously, according to the security experts hired by the Times; for instance, the source of the attacks was obfuscated, because the hackers first penetrated computers at United States universities and then routed their attacks through them.  The same university computers had previously been used by the Chinese military to attack U.S. military contractors.

Although the hackers stole the passwords of every Times employee, Jill Abramson, executive editor of The Times, said, “Computer security experts found no evidence that sensitive e-mails or files from the reporting of our articles about the Wen family were accessed, downloaded or copied." The information does not appear to have been used to obtain information not pertaining to the investigation, and no customer data was stolen.

The Times says,

The attacks appear to be part of a broader computer espionage campaign against American news media companies that have reported on Chinese leaders and corporations.

Last year, Bloomberg News was also targeted by Chinese hackers. Just before, Bloomberg had published an article on the wealth of relatives of Xi Jinping, China's then-vice president.

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via: The New York Times

photo: World Economic Forum/Flickr

— By on January 30, 2013, 11:41 AM PST

Laura Shin

Features Editor

Laura Shin has been published in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and The Los Angeles Times, and is currently a contributor at Forbes. Previously, she worked at Newsweek, the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and LearnVest. She holds degrees from Stanford University and Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure