Reports from The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal published independently this week revealed that both organizations’ systems have been infiltrated by hackers from China in an apparent attempt to monitor the media coverage and identify its sources.
The Technology section of The New York Times exposed an interesting story; the newspaper giant has been under attack for the past four months following an investigation of China’s Prime Minister, Wen Jiabao. The report uncovered several billion dollars’ worth of business dealings by Jiabao and his family members and coincidentally the cyberattacks started just after the reports were published in late October of 2012.
Security experts hired by The Times confirmed that the attacks came from China and that they resemble previously identified Chinese military attacks. Although no customer data was compromised, every Times employee’s password information was stolen and used to gain access to personal computers of 53 staff members. The attack began with a specific strain of malware that has been previously traced back to China, giving the hackers access to The Times’ computer network.
The Wall Street Journal also confirmed an infiltration of its network stating Chinese hackers gained access into their reporters’ systems leaving customer information untouched. Dow Jones & Co, the Wall Street Journal’s publisher, did not comment on how the attacks occurred or how they were identified; only stating that a “network overhaul to bolster security” was completed on Thursday to prevent further infiltration.
But the news comes as no surprise to the publishers as Chinese hackers have been targeting U.S. media companies for years. The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation has become involved in both incidents considering the hacking a matter of national security. Chinese Embassy spokesman, Geng Shaung, refuted the allegations stating that “the Chinese government prohibits cyberattacks and has done what it can to combat such activities in accordance with Chinese laws" noting that China has also been a victim to similar cyberattacks.
Kasia LorencKasia Lorenc is a contributor to Tom's IT Pro. Combining her love of IT and marketing, she currently serves as the Director of Technology and Search Marketing for Zacuto USA in Chicago.
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