Cyber Criminals Strike News Corp

  • By David Lukic
  • Feb 09, 2022

News Corp, a publishing specialist, recently announced it was victimized by a cyberattack. The attack occurred last month.   

What Was Compromised in the Attack?

The digital thieves behind the cyberattack illegally accessed and stole information from News Corp journalists’ email accounts. The hackers also stole information from other News Corp employees. Though the hackers did not reveal their motivation for targeting News Corp, it is worth noting Rupert Murdoch, often portrayed as a villainous media monopolist, is News Corp’s Executive Chairman. It is possible that Murdoch’s ties to News Corp partially inspired the hackers to zero in on this specific company.

According to David Kline, the Chief Technology Officer with News Corp, the attack accessed information from a limited number of accounts. Kline revealed the details in an email transmitted to staff members this past Friday. The email was forwarded to The New York Times. The improperly accessed documents and email accounts belonged to News Corp as well as News UK, News Technology Services, The New York Post, and Dow Jones.

What is the Timeline of the Attack?

The data breach was initially identified on January 20. The incident was then reported to the appropriate authorities. United States law enforcement and Mandiant, a digital security specialist, are now piecing together the puzzle of the attack.

Who is Behind the Attack?

According to Kline, it is likely that the attack was launched from outside of the country. Kline indicates the initial analysis of the attack reveals it is likely that a foreign government is behind the attack or at least involved in the breach. According to Mandiant representatives, the hackers responsible for the attack are likely connected to China. There is a good chance the hacking collective responsible for the breach is involved in espionage to gather highly sensitive information that will ultimately benefit China in the long run.  

Paul Martini, the Chief Executive Officer of iboss, commented on the breach, stating it is a preview of what will likely be a considerable number of digital attacks launched by nation-state actors in 2022 and beyond. Martini also detailed how the FBI recently characterized China’s cyber aggression as becoming that much more aggressive than in years past. 

The digital security expert also indicated the breach was likely a component of a campaign to collect intelligence information that will likely negatively impact United States politics and journalism in the ensuing years.

What is China’s Response to the Accusation?

A spokesperson for China’s embassy in the beltway responded to the accusation that his home country was behind the News Corp attack. Liu Pengyu indicated he hopes the approach to pinpointing the party responsible for the attack will be based on evidence and professional analysis instead of speculation.  

Indeed, there is no guarantee that Chinese hackers are responsible for the digital attack. As noted by several high-ranking individuals in the cyber security industry, the attribution of cyberattacks is inherently challenging. It would be a mistake to assume China is behind the attack until a thorough investigation is conducted. Stay tuned as additional details are revealed in the weeks ahead.

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