Hackers thought to be working for Russian intelligence have carried out a series of cyber breaches targeting reporters at The New York Times and other US news organizations, according to US officials briefed on the matter.
The intrusions, detected in recent months, are under investigation by the FBI and other US security agencies. Investigators so far believe that Russian intelligence is likely behind the attacks and that Russian hackers are targeting news organizations as part of a broader series of hacks that also have focused on Democratic Party organizations, the officials said.
The Times said email services for employees are outsourced to Google. CNN requested comment from Google but didn’t receive comment. The FBI declined to comment.
Times spokeswoman Eileen Murphy said the company had seen “no evidence” that any breaches had occurred of the Times’s internal systems. CNN’s report didn’t say that the Times internal systems were breached, but that reporters were targeted.
“We are constantly monitoring our systems with the latest available intelligence and tools. We have seen no evidence that any of our internal systems, including our systems in the Moscow bureau, have been breached or compromised,” Murphy said.
The breaches targeting reporters and news organizations are part of an apparent surge in cyber attacks in the past year against entities beyond US government agencies.
US intelligence officials believe the picture emerging from the series of recent intrusions is that Russian spy agencies are using a wave of cyber attacks, including against think-tanks in Washington, to gather intelligence from a broad array of non-governmental organizations with windows into the US political system.
News organizations are considered top targets because they can yield valuable intelligence on reporter contacts in the government, as well as communications and unpublished works with sensitive information, US government officials believe.
The Times, in its report, disputed CNN’s report that the Times was bringing in private cybersecurity investigators to assist. Law enforcement officials briefed on the matter earlier told CNN that the Times had indicated it was bringing in private sector cybersecurity consultants to investigate.
Attention has grown on the hacks thought to be carried out by Russians since Wikileaks released a trove of emails stolen from the DNC in the weekend before the Democratic Party’s convention to nominate Hillary Clinton for president. US intelligence officials say there is strong evidence showing Russian intelligence behind the DNC hack. The Clinton campaign has claimed the hack as proof that the Russians are trying to aid the election of Donald Trump.