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China Hackers Invaded NY Times System Via US Universities

Hackers linked to the Chinese military have repeatedly accessed the New York Times computer system using computers located at US universities, according to an extended investigation by the Times.

The hackers managed to obtain files containing the usernames and passwords of all New York Times employees through a persistent effort that spanned four months following the publication on October 25 of an investigative piece revealing several billion dollars worth of investments belonging to the relatives of premier Wen Jiabao.

Within hours of the article’s publication the Chinese government had blocked its citizens from accessing both the English and Chinese editions of the Times inside China. The sites remain blocked in China.

Upon suspecting computer intrusions the Times hired security experts. For months the experts tracked the hackers activities surreptitiously in order to gather knowledge about their methods. They were able to determine that the hackers operated in a manner that security experts in the past had associated with attacks launched on other systems by the Chinese military.

The hackers routed their attacks through computers they had accessed at US universities much in the same way previous attacks on US military networks had been carried out, according to the experts at Mandiant, the firm hired by the Times. They began by installing Trojan horses that enabled them to access any computer on the paper’s network. Their virus was identified as being of the same strain linked to past attacks originating in China. The attacks also started from the same university computers used in past attacks by the Chinese military against US military contractors.

The attackers hacked into the e-mail accounts of the paper’s Shanghai bureau chief, David Barboza, who wrote the Wen wealth piece, and Jim Yardley, the South Asia bureau chief in India, who had previously worked as bureau chief in Beijing. However, they seemed to have done no damage beyond the inflicting the sense of vulnerability and the large costs associated with addressing it.

“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,” said Times executive editor Jill Abramson.

The hackers also stole the file containing the passwords for every Times employee and used to them to access the personal computers of 53 employees. Most of them worked outside The Times’s newsroom. The passwords were apparently used only to seek information related to the reporting on the Wen family, possibly in an effort to track the sources of the reported information. No Times subscriber or advertiser data appears to have been stolen, according to the experts.

Upon concluding the investigation the experts implemented new security measures to block the vulnerabilities that had been exploited and to prevent further intrusions.

“Chinese laws prohibit any action including hacking that damages Internet security,” said a China National Defense Ministry spokesperson, adding that “to accuse the Chinese military of launching cyberattacks without solid proof is unprofessional and baseless.”

The Times report suggests that the hacking was part of a larger pattern of seeking to use computer attacks to control the media’s publication of information revealing evidence of corruption at high levels of government. Bloomberg’s computers had been attacked in a similar fashion, albeit unsuccessfully, after it had published an article on June 29 about the wealth amassed by the family of Xi Jinping, China’s new leader.

China has embarked on a campaign to expand secret access to US corporations, government agencies, activist groups and media organizations inside the United States to control China’s public image and to access trade secrets, the Times piece concludes. If it succeeds in getting the upper hand over the ability of those entities to defend against such attacks, it may succeed in scaring Chinese sources into not supplying inside information to outside media.

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Comments

Cleo · Jan 31, 03:33 PM · #

so if China did this – they just wanted their victims – the newspapers – to give China free publicity about their prowess to intimidate their true targets – third parties who want to leak but wish to remain anonymous.

How does this work towards the wikileak on Akihito?

Cleo · Jan 31, 03:35 PM · #

if you really wanted to get someone – you would just post the paper trail – like ownership records of relatives of the alleged corrupt Chinese leader – do you need the identity of the guy who showed you the documents? I think the NYT’s credibility would have been believable if the reporter had just kept it simple and just posted the evidence he found instead of making mistakes that he just flat out denies when Wen Jiabao’s rep critique them.

All we want as normal people is to see the proof with our own eyes.

Larry · Jan 31, 07:26 PM · #

I really don’t think you qualify as normal Cleo. And what the hell does Akihito have to do with this?

Cleo · Feb 2, 05:58 AM · #

What does a cat have to do with a fake threat on Akihito’s family? No one threatens the Godfather’s family.

There’s no point in hacking the New York Times – the Foreign Ministry simply responded that if there isn’t proof, the Times shouldn’t claim that the Chinese are responsible. For all we know, China AND the NYT are responsible.

But what would be the point of this? I don’t understand why they would hack or why they would describe how they hacked – because if you have Akihito’s toclafane spy satellites – you can SEE QE2 on the toilet and that means you could see her punching in her passwords if she did such a thing.

We do not live in a world when it’s about hacking or planting bugs – we live in a toclafane world and NO, I am not wearing at tin foil beanie nor have I ever watched a single episode of the X-files tv series.

This news is really weird – WSJ and Newsday are claiming to also have been hacked. WHY?

So if Chinese leaders get their reputations and careers damaged, then Chinese leadership will be vulnerable for a Tiananmen type coup? That’s not the case with Japan where pork barreling is just business as usual.

Based on the tone of the Asahi series of articles on the princelings esp. Bo Guagua, maybe this is a warning shot to would be hanjian in which case it’s not about who is attacked but how you got your information. I think if you attack China in the press, Japan, you’re going to get a response that will involve a very deep and thorough investigation where the Chinese or Americans will be able to determine HOW you got your information and that has to mean toclafane. It means you can’t just release “information” in the way you got the Japanese internet to participate in eye-raping Guo Jingjing’s infrared photos. China didn’t move on that but I’m guessing that Japan wants to use whatever invasion of privacy footage as leverage instead of being smart and avoiding another tsunami bomb.

The Americans are expert at deniablity and credibility. Yes, they let it leak that they have long had a tsunami bomb. Now what do you think THAT is about?

People mind Pearl Harbor more than the Japanese realize and we don’t mind the internment and the a-bombings at all.

If the Japanese push to claim that they were tsunami bombed on 3-11 – nevermind the disbelief but there will be a substantial lack of outrage that will only make Japan’s citizens feel very very unpopular – like David Byrne shedding Adele Lutz. It’s not going to feel too hot, you know what I mean?

:)

Cleo · Feb 2, 06:06 AM · #

The big deal is not that China is some kind of hacker god but that Akihito has been launching spy satellites for decades – most likely from their Pacific coast – and he uses it in nonpolitical ways and I think the most damning would be that QE2 is his favorite soap opera. If he’s been going otaku with this stuff, if his entire extended family have been privy to the footage, he also has minions monitoring and possibly editing and IF he is caught – if they have proof – he’s toast.

If Potus doesn’t know, that is really grievous. But think about who else is on his dvr list – the Thais are not going to like this one bit – nor are the North Koreans – what about Vladimir Putin and his girlfriend – that’s the RUSSIANS putting out a hit on him. Akihito should give up his plans for Mainland Asia and ASEAN. He should back away and maybe they’ll let him keep his “idiot box.”

He can watch everyone for the rest of his life and the Allies will never tell as long as Japan keeps the masquerade they are so intent on shedding once the last Marine is out of Okinawa.

They ignored Australia’s demands to leave Oz territorial waters – it’s not about the whales – I think they want to find out what’s in those waters since America decided to arm up Oz. You do remember what Japan did to Oz in the last war.

This is genuinely a war against Japan. It refuses to reign itself in despite every opportunity and encouragement to do so.

That’s odd and stupid but they don’t actually want Akihito’s face on tv constantly for the next 70 years because the details will be too juicy to talk about anything else.

That thing is not good looking. My father was much prettier and he couldn’t even be described as genuinely handsome.

Cleo · Feb 2, 01:18 PM · #

p.s. I know that Tony Leung Kar Fai has similar Easter Island head bone structure as Akihito but when I say that Akihito is the ugliest person in the world – I mean it – he could be wearing a mask and it would still be awful. So I hope he doesn’t think he’s superior to anyone especially the exhausted Chinese who fight him just because he eyerapes young and old with his spy satellites.

Cleo · Feb 2, 01:20 PM · #

What did the Japanese communicate via digital transmissions that they wouldn’t want China to expose???

Larry · Feb 2, 10:01 PM · #

Akihito the ugliest person in the world? You’re kidding me right? I’ve seen tons of people uglier than him. So when Akihito eventually dies will you finally be satisfied? He’s on his last legs you know. Or will it take the death of the entire Royal Family until you’re finally declared sane?

Cleo · Feb 3, 06:59 AM · #

so the toclafane footage is available on computers if you have the proper security clearance and a hacker just needs the username and password? So there HAS to be a record of which users accessed the footage like the murloc princesses probably watch the English Royals clothing choices pretty closely. The whole family probably watches the toilet sequences. Bo Xilai and his wife must be covered 24-7. But what about Zhang Ziyi? (I really hope not). I bet they’ve been watching Bo Gua Gua since Harrow. And they know more about Kate Middleton than any French tabloid photographer – they probably feel like she’s THEIR wife by now.

The Cambodian King just passed away – I would say that (1) Akihito needs to be wikileaked BEFORE the Thai King passes away because there is no reason to think that his heir will enjoy the same level of fondness that he does from his subjects and (2) Kate Middleton gives birth in the summer when QE2 will be a great grandmother being gang eyeraped by Akihito et al. SO it would be best for the baby to born INTO this rather than to precede the wikileak. Also, you never know how fragile QE2’s health is – she should be apprised of the reality of her LONG relationship with Sharkface Akihito Morningstar whilst she still has her wits about her to give him her glare.

It’s February. The baby is due in less than half a year.

Japan refused to leave Oz’s territorial waters which means they could have planted some explosives in the seabed to stop any ALLIED naval support when Japan decloaks – the Marines have to leave Okinawa, right?

That means the Korean waters are filled with Japanese booby traps already. And Taiwan remains very vulnerable. It’s not safe.

Sooner isn’t better, sooner is the only choice.

Wikileak Akihito.

Larry · Feb 3, 12:52 PM · #

Okay why don’t you Wikileak Akihito, as nobody is going to do it for you. Why are you so concerned with QE2? It’s none of your business if Akihito wants to eyerape anyone. Don’t you have anything better to do than to worry about Akihito eyeraping anyone? BTW you didn’t answer my question about the Japanese Royal Family so I’ll ask again. When Akihito dies off will you finally be satisfied? How about if they entire Royal Family died off? C’mom you’ve got to answer me on that. I’m trying to find out what makes you tick.

Cleo · Feb 3, 03:11 PM · #

I’ve never given it much thought but what WOULD happen if there was no Akihito blood left in the entire tribe?

They are prone to cancer … I don’t think the world can wait that long for them to die out to avoid warfare. The whole point is that Akihito wants to decloak Japan’s ruling monarchy – no more playing the victim of domineering butlers and servants. I think he craves it for Hisahito almost as much as himself.

I won’t bother to speculate because I don’t see the extended family decamping to Gstaad with their many billions safe in Luxembourg to avoid the radiation.

It’s be nice if they chose such a peaceful and comfortable resolution to this stalemate – not really a stalemate – certainly not a zugzwang – they’re going to get pounded if they don’t stop and there’s no money in going forward – it’s just meanness and stupidity.

I want us to be safe from Germans and Japanese. I want us to be free and to have genuine privacy from their stalking.

Larry · Feb 4, 04:11 PM · #

Can you please provide me any kind of evidence that Akihito is spying on anyone? BTW you do know America has a hell of a lot more spy satellites in orbit than Japan does right?

Cleo · Feb 5, 10:08 AM · #

How do you know that Japan has fewer and not more than anyone else? Do they have to fill out a form every time they launch one and say “Mother, May I?”

Larry · Feb 5, 08:17 PM · #

I’ve read several times from mainstream media that the US and I believe Russia has the most satellites in space. Either way it’s not Japan.

Cleo · Feb 15, 05:57 PM · #

Is Dwayne Johnson named after whatever hit The Urals today?

toclafane

deathstar

wikileaks

skynet

even … tricorders

and all because Ben Franklin flew a kite in the rain

America ROCKS!