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Wall Street Journal claims to also be target of China-based cyber-attacks

WASHINGTON -- The Wall Street Journal has become the second major U.S. media organization to accuse Chinese hackers of targeting its computers in an apparent effort to spy on journalists covering China.

The announcement on Thursday came a day after The New York Times said hackers, possibly connected to China's military, had infiltrated its computers in response to its expose of the vast wealth amassed by a top leader's family.

The Journal reported that the attacks were “for the apparent purpose of monitoring the newspaper's China coverage” and suggested that Chinese spying on U.S. media has become a “widespread phenomenon.”

“Evidence shows that infiltration efforts target the monitoring of the Journal's coverage of China, and are not an attempt to gain commercial advantage or to misappropriate customer information,” said a statement from Journal parent Dow Jones, a unit of Rupert Murdoch's News Corp.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the U.S. government had noted an increase in hacking attacks on both state institutions and private companies, and would raise the issue in international forums.

“We have to begin making it clear to not only the Chinese ... that the United States is going to be having to take actions to protect not only our governments but our private sector from this kind of illegal intrusion,” she said.

“I'd like to see an international forum committed to discussing what to do about this, because everybody's vulnerable.

“We're going to try to get legislation passed, which we were unsuccessful in doing in the last Congress,” she told journalists at a briefing to mark the end of her term as America's top diplomat.

The Journal gave no timeline for the attacks but said a network overhaul to bolster security had been completed on Thursday.

“We fully intend to continue the aggressive and independent journalism for which we are known,” Dow Jones spokeswoman Paula Keve said.

Asked for comment on the allegations involving the Wall Street Journal, China's defense ministry referred AFP to a statement it made Thursday saying that the military had “never supported any hacking attacks.”

The Beijing correspondent of Canada's Globe and Mail newspaper, Mark MacKinnon, meanwhile said he had been hacked in 2011.

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