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New York Times breached by Chinese hackers for 4 months

US media giant The New York Times has revealed that Chinese hackers have been infiltrating its computer systems for the last four months, possibly in retaliation to the paper’s investigation on China's prime minister Wen Jiabao.

With the aid of cyber security specialists, it was discovered that the attackers had been seizing passwords from reporters and other employees, but The Times’ executive editor, Jill Abramson said there was "no evidence that sensitive e-mails or files from the reporting of our articles about the Wen family were accessed, downloaded or copied.”

The paper also claims the attackers have now been expelled, while improved cyber defences are preventing them from breaking back in.

The start of the hacks coincided with the Times’ October investigation into the business dealings and hidden wealth of Wen Jiabao’s relatives. The attackers broke into the email accounts of Shanghai bureau chief, David Barboza, who was heavily involved on the article, and Jim Yardley, who previously worked as bureau chief in Beijing.

US security firm Symantec responded to the reports by emphasising the importance of adopting deep and thorough security solutions.

“Advanced attacks like the ones the New York Times described … underscore how important it is for companies, countries and consumers to make sure they are using the full capability of security solutions,” a company statement reads.

“Turning on only the signature-based anti-virus components of endpoint solutions alone are not enough in a world that is changing daily from attacks and threats. We encourage customers to be very aggressive in deploying solutions that offer a combined approach to security. Anti-virus software alone is not enough."

Image credit: Flickr (Stephen Rees)