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Foreign Journalists in China Targeted by Malware

Journalists in Beijing are being sent malicious email attachments, which would enable a backdoor into their systems. This latest round of attacks on reporters marks the third such incident, and as usual, the government denies all speculation that it may be behind the attacks.

Journalists Targeted by MalwareReuters broke the story on Friday, after sources reported seeing emails with suspicious attachments. The messages referred to the upcoming change within the ranks of the Communist Party, where it is expected that top officials will hand over power to the influx of new blood.

According to Greg Walton of MalwareLab, who examined the attachments, the malicious emails contained the same type of information stealing malware. Similar attacks targeted journalists and other NGOs shortly before the 60th anniversary of the Communist Party in 2009, and the Beijing Olympics. The timing of this latest round of attacks, given the pending power exchanging within the party, is suspect.

"China manages the Internet according to law and has engaged in cooperation with the international community to promote Internet security. Internet security is a complicated issue," Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said to Reuters when asked about the emails.

"China is also a victim of Internet attacks. The source of these Internet attacks is very difficult to determine. Reaching conclusions without sufficient evidence or fair and thorough investigations, it's just not serious."

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Steve Ragan is a security reporter and contributor for SecurityWeek. Prior to joining the journalism world in 2005, he spent 15 years as a freelance IT contractor focused on endpoint security and security training.