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China Security The Media IT

Washington Post: We Were Also Hacked By the Chinese 135

tsu doh nimh writes "A sophisticated cyberattack targeted The Washington Post in an operation that resembled intrusions against other major American news organizations and that company officials suspect was the work of Chinese hackers, the publication acknowledged on Friday. The disclosure came just hours after a former Post employee shared information about the break-in with ex-Postie reporter Brian Krebs, and caps a week marked by similar stories from The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. Krebs cites a former Post tech worker saying that the publication gave one of its hacked servers to the National Security Agency for analysis, a claim that the Post's leadership denies. The story also notes that the Post relied on software from Symantec, the same security software that failed to detect intrusions at The New York Times for many months."
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Washington Post: We Were Also Hacked By the Chinese

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  • Attack details? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by griffjon ( 14945 ) <GriffJon@gma[ ]com ['il.' in gap]> on Saturday February 02, 2013 @11:38AM (#42771135) Homepage Journal

    Has anyone seen any details on how to detect this specific method of attack, malware signatures, or similar? Cause that just might be of use, seeing the widespread nature of this.

    Also, who hasn't been attacked? Bueller? Bueller?

  • by mitchaki ( 1797554 ) on Saturday February 02, 2013 @12:20PM (#42771359)
    Maybe it has something to do with the large amounts of money the US owes China. It could also have to do with the US government trying to hide the fact that the Dept. of Homeland Security is completely inept and a huge fail when it comes to cybersecurity.
  • Re:Attack details? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by astralagos ( 740055 ) on Saturday February 02, 2013 @12:22PM (#42771369)
    APT attacks are well understood, it's just that they're not very technologically complex. They are, fundamentally, con jobs. You research somebody with a public identity, send a forged email with a trojan, and wait for somebody to open it. The success of the attack is dependent on finding a large enough group that somebody will open the mail. If you want an early example of a discussion of this, read Shishir Nagaraja's and Ross Anderson's "Snooping Dragon" paper.

    As for malware signatures, they've been increasingly ineffective for years. Attackers can buy AV as well, and it's easier for them to tweak their software to evade AV then it is for defenders to generate new signatures. AV's very good at protecting you from yesterday's attack. If you don't have a signature though, it usually takes month to identify a subverted host.

  • Re:Yea. Me Too. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by alexander_686 ( 957440 ) on Saturday February 02, 2013 @12:28PM (#42771409)

    These newspapers have been reporting embarrassing things. Like members of the Communist Party and their family members have vast wealth – implying that this wealth is coming from inside contacts and use (or abuse) of official power. The Communist Party would be interested in who is leaking the details.

  • Re:Attack details? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by guttentag ( 313541 ) on Saturday February 02, 2013 @12:44PM (#42771531) Journal
    Disclosure: I am a former Washington Post employee

    The Post doesn't seem to officially be divulging details. Sure, they're reporting on it now that the word is out through a former employee's blog citing an unnamed former employee (neither of those people are me) as a source, but the article actually has a Post spokesperson denying one of the claims of the article (that the Post handed over one of its servers to the NSA for study). This isn't the paper contradicting itself – it's what ethics look like in practice at a good newspaper. The paper can report on itself even when the top brass don't want to.

    However, in the New York Times story on its own intrusion, it was stated that AT&T "monitors" the company's network and noticed unusual traffic patterns. AT&T alerted athe Times, who asked them to keep an eye on it, and then brought Mandiant in to consult.

    Going back to The Post's story, the company's claim that it did not turn over a server to the NSA casts the issue of China hacking U.S. newspapers in a new light... if you read between the lines. Newspapers (especially The Post and The Times) see themselves as a fiercely-independent check on the government. Watergate-era readers would be as appalled at the idea of The Post handing over servers to the NSA as MacWorld attendees were in the 90s at seeing Bill Gates's face on screen during Job's speech. From a PR perspective, it just looks wrong. China might actually do more to harm these papers by getting them to run into the arms of the U.S. government. It's one thing to think China may have found out you're talking to a reporter... Quite another to think both the U.S. and China may later discover you were the anonymous source for a story they didn't want out. It's unlikely that the NSA is rooting around the server looking for political whistleblowers, but the idea of it has a chilling effect on potential sources who think of The Post as the institution that protected Deep Throat's identity for decades, at great risk to itself.

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