First the New York Times and now the Wall Street Journal! The U.S. newspapers have repeatedly been hacked by the Chinese hackers who are suspected to have links with the Chinese military.
On Wednesday, the The New York Times Company (NYSE:NYT) admitted that its systems were infiltrated and employee passwords were stolen. The hacking incidence of New York Times coincided with an investigation published online about the hidden wealth accumulated by Wen Jiabao's family and relatives.
The Wall Street Journal announced yesterday that it too has been hacked. The Journal, which is owned by News Corp (NASDAQ:NWSA) (NASDAQ:NWS), said Thursday that Chinese hackers were trying to monitor the Journal's coverage of China. The hackers broke into its network through Wall Street Journal's Beijing bureau. WSJ said in a written report that cyberspying has become an "ongoing issue". It is working closely with security experts and authorities to completely overhaul its network systems.
New York Times and the Wall Street Journal are not the only U.S. media giants to be hacked. Bloomberg LP said that hackers had tried several times to infiltrate its systems but they weren't successful. Bloomberg was attacked after it published an article about illegal wealth accumulated by the relatives of China's newly appointed prime minister Xi Jinping. Finally, a spokesperson for Thompson Reuters PLC said that the company's Reuters news service has been hacked two times in August, but the company couldn't track its source.
However, China's Ministry of National Defense has denied Chinese involvement in cyberspying on U.S. newspapers. Security specialists said that Chinese hackers have been targeting U.S. newspapers since 2008 to monitor their coverage of Chinese issues. The hackers are believed to have government links. Mandiant, a cyber security firm hired by U.S. media companies to control cyber infiltrations, said that the methods used in recent hacking incidents are similar to the ones used by Chinese military in the past.
Madiant said it has evidences of Chinese hackers stealing contacts, e-mails and files of roughly 30 reporters and executives. The hackers have maintained a "short list" of journalists who have written about Chinese politics, leaders and legal issues. By tapping the reporters' computers, Beijing identifies the sources of information and the type of information on pending stories. In the past, China has penalized its citizens who passed information to the Western journalists.
Hilary Clinton, the Secretary of the State, said that a global effort should be made to establish the "rules of the road" for Internet activities. “We have seen over the last years an increase in not only the hacking attempts on government institutions but also non-governmental ones,” Mrs. Clinton said.
Mrs. Clinton said that authorities are working on several initiatives that can be implemented if an international effort does happen. She didn't elaborate on this point.