WASHINGTON—Chinese hackers believed to have government links have been conducting wide-ranging electronic surveillance of media companies including The Wall Street Journal, apparently to spy on reporters covering China and other issues, people familiar with the incidents said.
Journal publisher Dow Jones & Co. said Thursday that the paper’s computer systems had been infiltrated by Chinese hackers, apparently to monitor its China coverage. New York Times Co. NYT +2.19% disclosed Wednesday night that its flagship newspaper also had been the victim of cyberspying.
Chinese hackers for years have targeted major U.S. media companies with hacking that has penetrated inside newsgathering systems, several people familiar with the response to the cyberattacks said. Tapping reporters’ computers could allow Beijing to identify sources on articles and information about pending stories. Chinese authorities in the past have penalized Chinese nationals who have passed information to foreign reporters.
Journal sources on occasion have become hard to reach after information identifying them was included in emails. However, Western reporters in China long have assumed that authorities are monitoring their communications and act accordingly in sensitive cases.
Chinese Embassy spokesman Geng Shuang condemned allegations of Chinese cyberspying. “It is irresponsible to make such an allegation without solid proof and evidence,” he said. “The Chinese government prohibits cyberattacks and has done what it can to combat such activities in accordance with Chinese laws.” He said China has been a victim of cyberattacks but didn’t say from where.
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