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Protecting its image: Chinese military allegedly behind hacks on major US newspapers

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A few of the most prominent newspapers in the US — The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The Washington Post — have revealed that they have been victims of cyber attacks that closely mirror each other. All three media outlets hired private security consultants to investigate the hacks, and all three believe that the Chinese military is behind the attacks. It's not clear how many other media agencies have been subject to attacks, but it appears that China is looking to monitor coverage of the state — and weed out sources.

19 updates and 644 comments below.

Jul 12 2:48p

Homeland Security urged ISPs to block IP addresses of suspected Chinese hackers

The US Department of Homeland Security and FBI provided a list of IP addresses used by alleged Chinese military hackers to American internet service providers (ISPs) earlier in February, and not-so-subtly encouraged the ISPs to block them, The Wall Street Journal reported today. Based on The Journal's report, the IP addresses that were on the list handed to ISPs were ones linked to the "Comment Crew," an alleged Chinese military hacking outfit that was described in a widely-publicized...

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May 22 4:46p

Should US companies be allowed to hack China in revenge? New report says yes

It's no secret that major US companies have been victims of a growing number of hacks from overseas in recent years, allegedly by attackers looking to steal corporate information and intellectual property, such as patented software. The Department of Defense and US diplomats have also accused China's government and military of being behind some of these attacks. Now, a new report by a group of influential former government officials and private executives says that if intellectual property...

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May 20 4:50a

Chinese hackers renew cyberattacks on US targets after brief lull

After a relative lull in activity, it looks as though the Chinese hacking group uncovered in a February security report has resumed its attacks on US targets. According to new information that security firm Mandiant submitted to The New York Times, attacks against identical, but unspecified, targets have been gradually increasing over the past two months, now sitting at 60 to 70 percent of their previous strength. Obama administration officials say that the issue will continue to be revisited...

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May 07 7:09p

Deter Cyber Theft Act aims to stop companies from profiting on cyber-espionage against the US

Yesterday a Pentagon report laid the blame for some of the recent hacking attacks in the United States at the feet of the Chinese government and military, and now a group of four US senators have proposed legislation aimed at hurting those the benefit from such actions. The Deter Cyber Theft Act was proposed by Carl Levin (D-MI), John McCain (R-AZ), Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), and Tom Coburn (R-OK), and is designed to address what NSA head General Keith Alexander has called "the greatest transfer...

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May 06 11:25p

Pentagon report says US computer hacking 'appears to be attributable' to Chinese government

In a new report the Pentagon states that it believes the Chinese government was behind some of the hacking attacks in the United States in 2012. As reported by The Wall Street Journal, the information comes from a yearly document prepared for Congress entitled "Military and Security Developments Involving the People's Republic of China 2013." It states that numerous computer systems in the US — including those of the US government itself — were hit with attacks, and that some of them...

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Apr 22 11:53a

Obama administration considering options to escalate response to Chinese cyberattacks

After years of accusations over Chinese government-sponsored hacks of American companies and agencies, the US government looks to be taking a more agressive stance. The Wall Street Journal reports that the Obama administration is looking into an array of options to send a message to China and proactively defend against future attacks.

Current officials and others who have recently left the government inform the paper that the administration is considering using the Justice Department to...

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Apr 13 4:01p

US and China form working groups to collaborate on cybersecurity, climate change

The United States and China will form working groups that focus in on two of today's most pressing issues: cybersecurity and climate change. That's according to US Secretary of State John Kerry, who outlined the plans during a visit to Beijing. The collaboration on cybersecurity is particularly notable; both countries have traded barbs and accusations of cyber espionage in recent months. It's unclear what (if anything) will come as a result of the joint effort, but the working group's...

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Mar 30 11:41a

China voices strong opposition to US cyber-espionage law

China has come out in strong opposition to a new US law that restricts government purchases of Chinese technology, saying the measure threatens to harm economic relations between the two countries. The provision, passed Thursday as part of a larger US spending bill, requires NASA, the Department of Justice, and the Commerce Department to consult with federal law enforcement before procuring Chinese IT systems. The law purportedly aims to mitigate the risk of cyber-espionage, but as Reuters...

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Mar 27 6:17p

US Congress restricts government purchase of Chinese computer equipment, citing cyber-espionage concerns

The latest US appropriations bill, signed into law just this week, includes a provision that is likely to further raise tensions between the country and China. The provision requires the Department of Justice, Department of Commerce, NASA, and the NSF to perform a formal assessment of risk of cyber-espionage before purchasing computer systems and other IT equipment. There is a clause in the bill that states that the assessment must specifically analyze — with the assistance of the FBI —...

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Mar 25 11:25a

Link revealed between elite Chinese university and military unit supposedly behind US cyberattacks

One of China's most elite and prestigious research universities appears to have a working relationship with the military unit that's said to be behind recent cyber-espionage attacks on US companies and government agencies. Reuters has discovered at least three research papers on cyber warfare co-authored by professors at Shanghai Jiao Tong University and members of PLA Unit 61398. Last month, a report from computer security agency Mandiant implicated that the military unit was responsible for...

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Mar 12 8:07a

China agrees to cooperate with US to prevent further cyberattacks

China has signalled it is willing to open a "constructive dialogue" to help stem the wave of cyberattacks allegedly coming from within its borders. Speaking to the Associated Press, a foreign ministry spokesperson condemned the recent attacks, adding that "cyberspace needs rules and cooperation, not wars. China is willing to have constructive dialogue and cooperation with the global community, including the United States."

Today's statement appears to be in direct response to strong comments...

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Feb 28 7:33a

China blames US for majority of cyberattacks on military websites

China's Defense Ministry today revealed new details about alleged cyberattacks on its websites, claiming that the US was responsible for nearly two-thirds of the 144,000 security breaches the ministry saw each month last year. The Chinese government accused the US of frequently hacking into state websites last week, but today's announcement marks the first time that China has disclosed details on the breadth of the alleged attacks.

"The Defense Ministry and China Military Online websites...

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Feb 20 1:32a

China's Ministry of Defense denies role in hacking, claims of similar attacks from US

Following yesterday’s explosive New York Times report implicating the Chinese military in a string of international cyber attacks, the country is once again denying it had any involvement, calling security company Mandiant’s investigation "scientifically flawed." Reuters reports that a response on the country’s Ministry of Defense website directly refutes Mandiant’s claims, saying that, "the report, in only relying on linking IP address to reach a conclusion the hacking attacks...

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Feb 18 11:48p

Chinese cyberattacks on US traced to this 12-story office building

The location of the "overwhelming percentage" of Chinese cyberattacks on US corporations and government agencies is believed to have been found, and it’s a People’s Liberation Army base in Shanghai, reports The New York Times. According to a 60-page study from computer security agency Mandiant, the hacking group, referred to as "Comment Crew," could not be placed inside the 12-story office tower, the home of PLA Unit 61398, but there is no other explanation how so many of the attacks...

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Feb 02 1:31p

The Washington Post confirms that it was also attacked by Chinese hackers

There have been an unusually high number of hacks this week, and today The Washington Post confirmed yesterday's reports that it was also the target of what the publication suspects is Chinese hackers. The Post joins The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times, which all appear to have been hacked to monitor their coverage of China. However, the Post reports that the extent of its attack, which may have begun as early as 2008 or 2009, was "unusual."

Feb 01 9:08p

The Washington Post may also have been hacking target (update)

It was revealed this week that several high-profile US newspapers suffered attacks from hackers, and now information is coming to light that indicates The Washington Post may have been yet another victim. Krebs on Security reports that a former Post information technology employee was part of a group that responded to a security breach the paper suffered that had ramifications throughout 2012. According to the report, servers and desktops at the Post had been compromised with software that...

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6:23p

Eric Schmidt reportedly calls China hacking campaigns 'sophisticated and prolific' in new book

The relationship between Google and China has grown increasingly contentious, and in a new book former CEO Eric Schmidt reportedly has some harsh words for the country. The Wall Street Journal reports that it has seen preliminary galleys of The New Digital Age, written by Schmidt and Google Ideas director Jared Cohen. In the book, the pair reportedly call China "the world's most active and enthusiastic filterer of information" — something Google has had to deal with firsthand in recent...

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Jan 31 4:26p

Wall Street Journal says it was also hit by Chinese hackers

Yesterday the New York Times revealed that it had suffered attacks at the hands of what it claimed were hackers from China, and today the Wall Street Journal has joined the group of victims. The Journal is reporting that its computers had been compromised by Chinese hackers, apparently to monitor the paper's coverage of China itself. The timeframe or length of these specific attacks weren't detailed, but Paula Keve — chief spokesperson for WSJ parent company Dow Jones & Co. — said in a...

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11:37a

China calls NYT hack accusation 'groundless' as Symantec deflects blame for intrusion

China is staunchly denying a report from The New York Times that suggests its military colluded with hackers to launch a four-month cyber attack against the US newspaper. Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei took a harsh tone in responding to the NYT's accusations. "The competent Chinese authorities have already issued a clear response to the groundless accusations made by The New York Times," he told reporters earlier today. "To arbitrarily assert and to conclude without hard evidence that...

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Jan 30 11:48p

The New York Times says hackers attacked its systems for months, suspects Chinese military

The New York Times has published a wild account of a four month-long hack, reportedly originating in China, that compromised its computer systems and targeted its reporters. The report suggests that the attack may have been politically motivated, and that it may have been conducted by the Chinese military. The hack has since been shut down, but several important questions remain unanswered.

The Times says that it received warnings from Chinese government officials in response to an...

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