Nightly News | January 31, 2013
>>> we've been reporting on the warnings and seeing the examples over and over . state-sponsored computer hacking of american companies by china. well, tonight it's the news media itself under siege, including some very big names. our report from nbc's pete williams .
>> reporter: the "new york times" says hackers have been attacking its computer system for the past four months. even managing to get passwords for individual reporters. the paper says its own security experts and the fbi traced the intrusions to hackers in china who it says were employing techniques associated in the past with hackers from the chinese military . another newspaper, "the wall street journal " says it too was hit by chinese hackers who apparently wanted to monitor its china reporting. no attempt, the journal says, to steal customer data. in beijing, any suggestion that the chinese were involved, quote, irresponsible. but "the times" says the hack attack coincided with a series of stories it posted on its website, which reported that relatives of china's prime minister had amassed a fortune worth several billion dollars through business deals.
>> we first noticed the unusual activity on our network shortly after we published our article about the outgoing chinese ruling family.
>> reporter: security experts and the fbi say china has been targeting news organizations in the u.s. and overseas for the past few years. one main goal, they say, has been to try to identify the sources of news leaks within the chinese government . it's also part of a broader pattern of hacking and related attacks on banks and other businesses. security experts say there's no such thing as a fool-proof defense.
>> there really isn't. i mean, the only computers these days that are safe in the chinese government hackers are computers that are turned off, unplugged and thrown in the back seat of your car.
>> reporter: as for the "new york times," the paper says the latest hack attack is over, but says it fully expects china to try again. pete williams , nbc news, washington.