Hackers broke into servers operated by The Washington Post and accessed employee user names and passwords, the publishing company reported Wednesday evening.
Exactly what company data was accessed by the attackers was not immediately known, but officials said all employees would be asked to change their user names and passwords, Washington Post technology reporter Craig Timberg reported.
The passwords were reported as being “stored in encrypted form,” something that is often confused with having passwords being Hashed.
If employees are actually being asked to change their user names as reported, the process can be much more challenging than simply changing a password—and something that often IT administrators are only able to do.
Post officials were notified of the intrusion on Wednesday by Mandiant, the security firm which in February gained attention for its 74-page report exposing one of China’s cyber espionage units dubbed APT1.
Mandiant monitors The Washington Post’s networks, Timberg said, adding that the intrusion was of “relatively short duration.”
“[The attack] began with an intrusion into a server used by The Post’s foreign staff but eventually spread to other company servers before being discovered,” Timberg wrote.
According to Timber, there was no evidence of subscriber data being accessed by the attackers, and no sign that the hackers gained access to The Post’s publishing system or sensitive employee information, such as Social Security numbers.
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“The company’s suspicions immediately focused on the possibility that Chinese hackers were responsible for the hack,” Timberg said.
This latest attack markets at least the third known hacker intrusion over the past three years, according to Timberg.
“Evidence strongly pointed to Chinese hackers in a 2011 intrusion of The Post’s network and in hacks against the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and a wide range of Washington-based institutions, from think tanks to human rights groups and defense contractors,” Timberg added.
The Washington Post also had its website hacked by the Syrian Electronic Army this past summer, making it one of several media organizations hit by the pro Bashar al-Assad group.
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