The officials at New York Times Newspaper have confirmed that their computers were hacked allegedly by Chinese hackers for over past 4 months.
As a result passwords of 53 journalists at New York Times Newspaper were hacked around 13 September, the hackers specifically spied on the accounts of those journalists working on 25th October story on investigation into the financial affairs of Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao, revealing that friends and relatives of Wen Jiabao had made billions of dollars in business deals.
The hackers hacked into the official email account of the New York Time’s Shanghai bureau chief, David Barboza, who is the main person behind the breakup of the story and the same prson who conducted the investigation, as well as the email account of Jim Yardley, the paper’s South Asia bureau chief in India, who had previously worked out of Beijing.
Jill Abramson, who is Executive editor at the Newspaper said that:
we have done our investigation and “no evidence that sensitive emails or files from the reporting of our articles about the Wen family were accessed, downloaded or copied”.
Wired reports that it’s not the first time that the paper has been hacked. In 1998, a group known as HFG — or H4acking for Girl13z — hacked the paper’s website to protest the arrest of hacker Kevin Mitnick and accuse Times reporter John Markoff of helping to catch him.
In 2002, former hacker Adrian Lamo famously hacked the paper’s network after discovering multiple vulnerabilities and accessed a database containing the details of 3,000 contributors to the paper’s op-ed page, among other things.
While in the latest attack, the hackers first hacked into the computers of some ISP companies in US and universities in Arizona, North Carolina, New Mexico and Wisconsin, zombifiying the computers to conduct cyber attack on New York Times computers.
The hackers then installed around 45 malicious malwares on the computers which were totally undetectable by Symantec antivirus uses by the Newspaper.
The activity got stronger back in October when the story of Chinese PM was about to go public, the hackers even tried to shutdown the company’s computers, last attempt to stop the report from publishing.
Marc Frons, theTimes’s chief information officer:
“They could have wreaked havoc on our systems,But that was not what they were after.” “They created custom software that allowed them to search for and grab Mr Barboza’s and Mr Yardley’s emails and documents from a Times email server,” the paper revealed.
AT&T that monitors company’s network found suspicious activity which was reported to FBI and here we are publishing this story for our readers.
In the end, China has denied all the allegations by calling it baseless and that Chinese government has nothing to do with this cyber attack.
Just two days ago I reported how China admits cyber warfare unit in People’s Liberation Army, today’s story does matches with the Chinese acceptance or elite hackers in its army.