Hackers from China reportedly broke into the system of The New York Times. This was after an article about the immense affluence of the relatives of Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao was published on October 25th, 2012. Consecutively, the Wall Street Journal also came out to report the same incident as well as Bloomberg.
The New York Times was the first to write on the Chinese Premier’s personal wealth which would be considered as controversial given the poverty rate in China. Many Chinese citizens are extremely poor and make very little. The income per capita in China is $4,500 a year, 114th in the world according to the World Bank.
After the controversial article, “Billions in Hidden Riches for Family of Chinese Leader”, was published hackers were apparently attacking the said news agency non-stop. It is said that this article outlining the leaders’ wealth is the main reason for the attack even though Chinese government officials deny this.
According to investigations, the tool employed to hack into these foreign publishing companies is the email system using spear-phishing method. Spear-phishing is a fraudulent email that are directed at certain organizations to gain unrestricted access. These attacks are well coordinated and are usually performed to gain sensitive information.
Result of the investigation has pointed the source of the attack to China and with the probability that it is also military in nature.
These emails will usually appear to come from a trusted source and will encourage the victim to click through. Once this occurs, the attack initiates. Once the user clicks on the fraudulent email, a Remote Access Tools (RATs) is being installed allowing the perpetrators to access confidential information such as passwords, documents and even photos.
Passwords of reporters and employees were stolen by the hackers. In this case, the attack was centered on the information about the article on Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao. They accessed the email account of Shanghai bureau chief, David Barboza, who wrote the article. However, according to computer experts, no sensitive information was stolen.
Result of the investigation has pointed the source of the attack to China and with the probability that it is also military in nature. However, China’s Minister of National defense has denied orchestrating the said attacks.