Chinese hackers, possibly from the country's military, broke into the New York Times' computers while it was investigating the wealth of Wen Jiabao, the paper has said.
The hackers over the past four months have gained entry into NYT's internal systems and accessed the computers of 53 employees including David Barboza, its Shanghai bureau chief and author of the Wen exposé, and Jim Yardley, its South Asia bureau chief in India.
On October 25, NYT detailed how premier Wen Jiabao's family accumulated assets worth more than $2.7 billion. An investigation by a cyber-security company, Mandiant, concluded that the hacks were likely part of a spy campaign with links to the military.
The source of the attacks was traced to university computers that the "Chinese military had used to attack United States military contractors in the past", the Times said.
Though the hackers gained passwords for every Times employee, Mandiant found that they only sought information that was related to the Wen story.
The Times noticed suspicious activity on its computer networks on October 25. It was later found that the hackers initially broke into the system on September 13 when reporting for the Wen story was in its final pre-publishing stages.
China dismissed the report "as groundless accusations".
With agency inputs