Feds Investigate Hack of The New York Times, Suspect Russian Operatives Are to Blame

Authorities are investigating a series of cyberattacks on news outlets.

ByMIKE LEVINE
August 23, 2016, 7:06 PM

— -- Federal authorities are investigating a series of cyberattacks on The New York Times and other U.S. media organizations, and they believe those web-based assaults were "probably" carried out by the same Russian hackers who recently infiltrated Democratic organizations, a source familiar with the probe told ABC News.

The intrusions were discovered in recent months, and it's unclear exactly why the hackers would have targeted news outlets. Journalists, however, routinely interact with countless officials across the U.S. government as part of their jobs.

ABC News was unable to determine what other news outlets, aside from The New York Times, were hit. CNN first reported the intrusions and subsequent investigation.

The New York Times said its Moscow bureau was targeted, but noted no "internal systems" were breached.

"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," the Times said in a statement on Tuesday evening.

For months, the FBI has been investigating what appear to be coordinated cyberattacks on Democratic organizations, with the hacking of the Democratic National Committee being the most damaging so far.

Not only did the hack apparently allow cyber operatives to steal opposition research on Republican nominee Donald Trump, but many suspect it led to the theft of internal messages that showed efforts by DNC officials to undermine Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders during the primary season. After those damaging emails were publicly released by WikiLeaks, Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz stepped down as DNC chairwoman.

The FBI declined to comment for this article.

Asked last month whether Russia might have intentions to undermine the U.S. political process, James Clapper, the nation’s top intelligence official, said Russian officials “believe we’re trying to influence political developments in Russia, we’re trying to affect change, and so their natural response is to retaliate and do unto us as they think we've done to them."

Speaking at the annual Aspen Security Forum in Aspen, Colorado, Clapper said Russian President Vladimir Putin is "paranoid" about the potential for revolutions in Russia, "and of course they see a U.S. conspiracy behind every bush, and ascribe far more impact than we’re actually guilty of."

Referring to cyber warfare, Clapper said it is not "terribly different than what went on during the heyday of the Cold War," just with different tools and "a different modality." And, he said, the U.S. intelligence community is now "at war" with Russia, conducting operations every hour of every day against Russia and other adversaries.

Nevertheless, Clapper said he's "taken aback a bit by ... the hyperventilation over" the hack of the DNC, adding in a sarcastic tone, "I'm shocked somebody did some hacking. That’s never happened before."

The American people "just need to accept" that cyber threats and computer-based attacks are a major long-term challenge facing the United States, and he said Americans should "not be quite so excitable when we have yet another instance of it."

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