Chinese hackers invade New York Times – steal passwords for every employee

// January 31st, 2013 // Hacking and Security


Front of New York Times building

The New York Times revealed yesterday that Chinese hackers have attacked The New York Times, infiltrating its computer systems and getting passwords for its reporters and other employees.  It is believed that the hackers have had access to their internal network for four months (the initial break-in occurred on 9/13/12).  The New York Times notes that:

“The timing of the attacks coincided with the reporting for a Times investigation, published online on Oct. 25, that found that the relatives of Wen Jiabao, China’s prime minister, had accumulated a fortune worth several billion dollars through business dealings.  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.”

The Times noted that the hackers tried to conceal their location by first breaking into various university accounts and relaying their network traffic through the the comprised networks.  After breaking into the NYT network, the hackers installed malware that allowed them to access to all computers on the NYT network.  The NYT also found evidence that the hackers stole passwords for every user on the network (they cracked the password hashes using rainbow tables) and used those passwords to gain access to the employees’ personal computers.  Custom software was also installed which allowed the hackers to track and obtain email and documents from the writers of the Wen Jiabao expose.  They are unsure how the hackers originally gained access to their systems but assume it was via a phishing attack.


Sources: New York Times
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