Feb 01 2013

Guardian: NY Times hacking revelations shed new light on China cybercrime

Newswire | Published 1 Feb 2013, 8:15 am | Comments Off on Guardian: NY Times hacking revelations shed new light on China cybercrime -

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Revelations that China apparently targeted the New York Times in a campaign of cyber-espionage have cast a rare spotlight on attempts by Beijing to crack down on any criticism of its ruling elite.

The move, which was detected and then monitored by the Times’s digital staff, is believed to have been linked to the newspaper’s hard-hitting October exposé on the vast wealth accumulated by the family of leading communist and outgoing premier Wen Jiabao.

Government officials in Beijing have vehemently denied the allegations, though that has prompted scepticism among New York Times executives who devoted long weeks to tracking, checking and ultimately exposing the move.

“This is business-as-usual from what we can tell for aspects of the Chinese government,” said Marc Frons, head of the newspaper’s digital technology and its chief information officer. Frons told The Guardian that the paper was expecting further such attempts to infiltrate its computer systems. “It is really spy versus spy,” he said. “I don’t think we can relax. I am pretty sure that they will be back.”

The hackers gained entry to the newspaper’s internal systems and accessed the personal computers of 53 employees including David Barboza, its Shanghai bureau chief and author of the Wen exposé, and Jim Yardley, a former Beijing bureau chief.

An investigation by Mandiant, a cyber-security company hired by the New York Times, concluded that the hacks were likely part of an elaborate spy campaign with links to the country’s military. The company traced the source of the attacks to university computers that the “Chinese military had used to attack United States Military contractors in the past”, the Times said.

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