4-Month Chinese Cyber Breach Plagues New York Times

(Ping! Zine Web Tech Magazine) – Top U.S. newspaper The New York Times on Wednesday disclosed a breach on its system that had been persistent for the course of four months.

The source? Chinese hackers who successfully attacked the company, at times stealing sensitive data such a passwords for the paper’s reporters and other associates.

And despite what appears to be a rather large scale attack, The Times noted it had succeeded in blocking the intruders.

The breach’s timing is curious and arrives on the heels of a New York Times’ investigation into the family ties of Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao. Jiabao’s family is worth several billion dollars and the report unveiled by the paper in October was considered controversial.

New York Times Executive Director Kill Abramson downplayed the hackers’ ability to access data related to the Jibao story. “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,” she remarked, according to the paper.

Methods used in the attack were described by some consultants as associated with the country’s military. The attackers attempted to reroute the breaches via the systems of U.S. universities and relied on malware to invade the paper’s network.

No customer data was affected during the ordeal. China, however, has long been a source of cyber breaches against U.S. institutions and has been a suspect in past attacks on Google email service Gmail, defense contractor Lockheed Martin and more.