Allegations that Chinese hackers infiltrated the computers of two leading U.S. newspapers add to a growing number of cyber attacks on Western companies, governments and foreign-based dissidents that are believed to originate in China, experts say.
According to one recent report, one in every three observed computer attacks in the third quarter of 2012 emanated from China. Chinese officials have denied that Beijing has supported any cyber attacks, stressing that hacking is illegal in the country. The New York Times reported Wednesday it had been the target of four months of cyber assaults, which started during an investigation by the newspaper into the wealth reportedly accumulated by relatives of the Chinese premier, Wen Jiabao.
The Wall Street Journal said Thursday that its computer systems also had been infiltrated by Chinese hackers. Cyber security experts say the alleged attack on The New York Times appeared to be similar to previously reported attacks that were linked to China.
"To do a spear-phishing attack of this kind is a well-established move in attacks against Google and various U.S. defense contractors from China," said Thomas Parenty, a former employee of the U.S. National Security Agency who now advises foreign firms in China on computer security.