Journalists’ e-mails hackedPosted Apr 9 2010
Just months after unknown users hacked Gmail accounts used by journalists and human rights activists, over a dozen journalists and activists were once against victims of cyber-attacks, this time to Yahoo e-mail accounts.
The New York Times reports that the hackings seem to have targeted people who write about China and Taiwan. Victims said they had their e-mails rerouted to unfamiliar e-mail addresses or were not allowed to access their account because of issues detected by Yahoo.
Kathleen McLaughlin, a freelancer and head of the media freedoms committee for the Foreign Correspondents Club of China, told Reporters Without Borders that she received a message from Yahoo stating that she needed to contact Yahoo by phone before her account could be restored.
“After five days of attempting to do so, my account was finally restored this morning,” she said. “Yahoo has still not explained who accessed the account, when and how they noticed the hacking and what information might have been disclosed. I’m happy I don’t use the Yahoo email for sensitive work.”
Most of the attacks occurred the same week Google announced that all queries to its censored search engine in mainland China would be redirected to Hong Kong's uncensored Google site.
Foreign correspondents in China faced another challenge when the FCCC Web site was shut down because of denial-of-service attacks on April 2. These attacks occur when servers are purposely overloaded by a spike of user activity in a short period of time.
According to a statement released by the FCCC, the denial-of-service attacks were traced back to computers in China and the U.S.
“We do not know who is behind these attacks or what their motivation is,” FCCC’s statement said.
Press freedom organizations such as Reporters Without Borders and Committee to Protect Journalists have expressed concerns about Internet freedom and e-mail security in China.
“We urge Yahoo! to recognize the need for transparency and provide information about the nature and extent of these cyber-attacks,” Reporters Without Borders said. “If its clients are not given the information they need, Yahoo! could appear to be protecting those responsible for these attacks.”