News Corp Discloses Cyber-Attack

Publishing company News Corp has disclosed that it was the victim of a cyber-attack last month.

Threat actors compromised email accounts belonging to journalists and other employees at the company, which Australian-born American media tycoon Rupert Murdoch owes. 

In an email sent to staff members on Friday and viewed by The New York Times, News Corp’s chief technology officer David Kline wrote that “a limited number” of email accounts and documents belonging to News Corp headquarters, News Technology Services, Dow Jones, News UK and The New York Post had been impacted by the incident. 

The security incident was discovered on January 20. It was reported to the relevant authorities and is now being investigated by US law enforcement and by cybersecurity firm, Mandiant.

Kline wrote that the attack is believed to have originated from outside the United States. 

“Our preliminary analysis indicates that foreign government involvement may be associated with this activity, and that some data was taken,” wrote Kline. 

“Mandiant assesses that those behind this activity have a China nexus and believes they are likely involved in espionage activities to collect intelligence to benefit China’s interests.”

Commenting on the attack, iboss CEO Paul Martini said: “This is an early example of what we believe will be a broader escalation of cyber-attacks by nation-state actors in the coming year.

“Just days ago, the FBI labeled Chinese cyber aggression more ‘brazen and damaging’ than ever before and we’re seeing that play out in real time.”

Martini conjectured that the attack was part of an “intelligence gathering campaign that could have broader impacts on US journalism and politics for years to come.”

Liu Pengyu, a spokesman for the Chinese Embassy in Washington, reportedly wrote in an email: “We hope that there can be a professional, responsible and evidence-based approach to identifying cyber-related incidents, rather than making allegations based on speculations.”

Tripwire’s VP of strategy, Tim Erlin, commented: “Cyber-attack attribution is extremely difficult, and while the casual reader may draw the conclusion here that China is responsible (which may be true), it’s worth noting the language that Mandiant uses. 

He added: “The term ‘China nexus’ and the phrase ‘benefit China’s interests’ are both ways of softening the conclusion. In these types of reports, language matters.”

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