The news publishing company said it thought the breach affected a “limited number” of accounts.
News Corp, the news publishing empire owned by Rupert Murdoch, was the target of a cyberattack that hacked the email accounts of journalists and others at the company, in a breach that a digital security firm said was meant to help China.
The hack was disclosed in a securities filing on Friday. The company said it had discovered the attack on one of its systems in January.
David Kline, News Corp’s chief technology officer, said in an email to staff members on Friday that the company had notified U.S. law enforcement and opened an investigation with the digital security firm Mandiant after the discovery.
Mr. Kline said the company believed the breach had affected “a limited number” of email accounts and documents from News Corp headquarters, News Technology Services, Dow Jones, News UK and The New York Post. Other News Corp properties, like News Corp Australia, HarperCollins Publishers and Storyful, were not believed to have been affected.
“Our preliminary analysis indicates that foreign government involvement may be associated with this activity, and that some data was taken,” Mr. Kline wrote in the email, which was viewed by The New York Times. “Mandiant assesses that those behind this activity have a China nexus and believes they are likely involved in espionage activities to collect intelligence to benefit China’s interests.”
Mr. Kline said that the company believed the threat had been contained and that customer and financial data had not been hacked.
“Even though the vast majority of our people’s emails and documents were not the target of this attack activity, we take seriously any attack on our organization and our employees, including our journalists,” Mr. Kline wrote in the email.
Liu Pengyu, a spokesman for the Chinese Embassy in Washington, said in an email that he was not aware of the reported details about the hack.
“We hope that there can be a professional, responsible and evidence-based approach to identifying cyber-related incidents, rather than making allegations based on speculations,” Mr. Pengyu said.
Escalating tensions between China and the United States in recent years have ensnared the news media. In 2020, China expelled American reporters working for The Times, The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post by canceling their media credentials, forcing out more than a dozen journalists. Earlier, the Trump administration limited the number of Chinese citizens who could work in the United States for state-run Chinese news agencies that are considered to be propaganda outlets.
The United States and China agreed in November to ease the restrictions on foreign journalists in each country, which was expected to allow The Times, The Journal and The Post to send some reporters back to China.
However, foreign journalists in China are facing “unprecedented hurdles,” including increased intimidation and harassment for doing their jobs, according to a report released on Jan. 31 by the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of China.
“The Chinese state continues to find new ways to intimidate foreign correspondents, their Chinese colleagues and those whom the foreign press seeks to interview, via online trolling, physical assaults, cyber hacking and visa denials,” the report said.