The New York Times reported today that hackers inside China infiltrated its network over the course of at least four months. They obtained reporters' passwords, presumably to ID sources and gather intel on stories related to the family of China’s prime minister.
According to the Times exposé by Nicole Perlroth, the hackers first intruded on the paper's network around Sept. 13, then stole corporate passwords for "every Times employes and used those passwords to gain access to the personal computers of 53 employees, most of them outside the Times newsroom."
The hack happened around the same time as a NYT investigation into a fortune amassed by China’s Prime Minister Wen Jiabao. The breach took place while reporters were finishing up that investigation, which was then published on Oct. 25:
Security experts hired by The Times to detect and block the computer attacks gathered digital evidence that Chinese hackers, using methods that some consultants have associated with the Chinese military in the past, breached The Times’s network. They broke into the e-mail accounts of its Shanghai bureau chief, David Barboza, who wrote the reports on Mr. Wen’s relatives, and Jim Yardley, The Times’s South Asia bureau chief in India, who previously worked as bureau chief in Beijing.
“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 Jill Abramson, executive editor of The Times.