The New York Times came under a four-month attack by computer hackers from China, starting after it reported the wealth of Premier Wen Jiabao's family, the US newspaper said Thursday, dpa reported.
"For the last four months, Chinese hackers have persistently attacked The New York Times, infiltrating its computer systems and getting passwords for its reporters and other employees," it said.
It said the start of the attacks "coincided with the reporting for a Times investigation, published online on October 25, that found that the relatives of Wen Jiabao had accumulated a fortune worth several billion dollars through business dealings," it said. Cybersecurity experts eventually "expelled the attackers and kept them from breaking back in," the newspaper said. The experts found evidence that the hackers used "methods that some consultants have associated with the Chinese military in the past" to infiltrate the newspaper's computer systems.
Security breaches included intrusions into the email account of Shanghai-based correspondent David Barboza, who was the main author of the newspaper's reports on Wen's family's wealth, and the accounts of other journalists.
"Computer security experts found no evidence that sensitive emails or files from the reporting of our articles about the Wen family were accessed, downloaded or copied," said Jill Abramson, the newspaper's executive editor.
A newly appointed correspondent for the newspaper, Chris Buckley, was forced to leave China for Hong Kong in late December after authorities failed to grant him a visa by the end of the year when visas for all foreign correspondents in China normally expire.
The Chinese visas of Barboza and other journalists at the newspaper were renewed in December.
But the newspaper said last month that a visa application in March for its new China bureau chief, Phillip Pan, had "not been processed" by Chinese officials after nine months.