News Corp, publisher of The Wall Street Journal, said Friday that it had been hacked and had data stolen from journalists and other employees, and a cybersecurity firm investigating the intrusion said Chinese intelligence-gathering was believed behind the operation.
The news company, whose publications and businesses include the New York Post and WSJ parent Dow Jones, said it discovered the breach on Jan. 20. It said in a regulatory filing that an investigation is underway to determine its nature, scope, duration and impacts.
It said customer and financial data were so far not affected and that the company’s operations had not been interrupted.
But a major concern was the company’s journalists.
News organisations are prime targets for the world’s intelligence agencies because their reporters are in constant contact with sources of sensitive information.
Mandiant, the cybersecurity firm examining the hack, said in a statement that it ‘assesses that those behind this activity have a China nexus, and we believe they are likely involved in espionage activities to collect intelligence to benefit China’s interests.
It was not known when the hackers breached the network or how much data they stole.
In an email to staff, News Corp said the hack “affected a limited number of business email accounts and documents from News Corp headquarters, News Technology Services, Dow Jones, News UK, and New York Post.
Our preliminary analysis indicates that foreign government involvement may be associated with this activity, and that some data was taken, the email said.
FBI Director Christopher Wray said in a speech this week that the bureau is opening investigations tied to suspected Chinese espionage operations about every 12 hours, and that it has more than 2,000 such probes. He said Chinese government hackers have been pilfering more personal and corporate data than all other countries combined.
While state-backed Russian hacking tends to get more headlines, US officials say China has been stealthily stealing far more valuable commercial and personal data over the past few decades as digital technology took hold.
A spokesperson for the Chinese Embassy in Washington did not immediately return an email seeking comment. News Corp.‘s assets also includes the publishing house HarperCollins.
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