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Threatwatch

Chinese attackers purloin NYT emails for months

Credential-stealing malware; Cyber espionage; Password cracking; Spear-phishing

“Investigators still do not know how hackers initially broke into The Times’s systems.” They suspect the hackers used a spear-phishing attack, in which they send e-mails to employees that contain malicious links or attachments. One click on an e-mail by an employee will install “remote access tools” that can siphon off oceans of data — passwords, keystrokes, screen images, documents and, in some cases, recordings from computers’ microphones and Web cameras — and send the information back to the attackers’ Web servers.” “Security experts found evidence that the hackers stole the corporate passwords for every Times employee and used those to gain access to the personal computers of 53 employees.” “The timing of the attacks coincided with the reporting for a Times investigation, published online on Oct. 25, that found that the relatives of Wen Jiabao, China’s prime minister, had accumulated a fortune worth several billion dollars through business dealings.” Chinese hackers broke into the e-mail accounts of The Times’s Shanghai bureau chief, who wrote the reports on Mr. Wen’s relatives, and The Times’s South Asia bureau chief in India, who previously worked as bureau chief in Beijing. No evidence sensitive e-mails or files from the reporting of NYT articles about the Wen family were accessed, downloaded or copied. “The hackers tried to cloak the source of the attacks on The Times by first penetrating computers at United States universities and routing the attacks through them, said computer security experts at Mandiant, the company hired by The Times. . .the attacks started from the same university computers used by the Chinese military to attack United States military contractors in the past.”

sector

Media

reported

January 30, 2013

reported by

The New York Times

number affected

Every Times employee

location of breach

New York, United States

perpetrators

Chinese Hackers

location of perpetrators

China

date breach occurred

9/13/2012

date breach detected

10/25/2012