The New York Times says Chinese hackers repeatedly penetrated its computer networks over the past four months, stealing reporters' passwords and hunting for files on an investigation into the wealth amassed by the family of one of China's leaders.
In a report released late Wednesday, the Times said security experts hired to plug the breach tracked the attacks to China, in some cases computers identified with the Chinese military.
Thenewspaper reports that, "After surreptitiously tracking the intruders to study their movements and help erect better defenses to block them, The Times and computer security experts have expelled the attackers and kept them from breaking back in."
The attacks coincided with a Times investigation into how the family and relatives of Premier Wen Jiabao built a fortune worth more than $2 billion. The report says no Times customer data was compromised but that the passwords for all employees were stolen.
The newspaper adds, "The hackers tried to cloak the source of the attacks on The Times by first penetrating computers at United States universities and routing the attacks through them, said computer security experts at Mandiant, the company hired by The Times. This matches the subterfuge used in many other attacks that Mandiant has tracked to China."
Security experts say China carries out a widespread cyber-spying operation to steal secrets and intimidate critics.