CNN and NYT Agree that NYT was Hacked by Russia, but Not on the Details

CNN was the “first” to report another alleged Russian hack today.

Hackers thought to be working for Russian intelligence have carried out a series of cyber breaches targeting reporters at The New York Times and other US news organizations, according to US officials briefed on the matter.

CNN then claimed that the investigators “believe” that Russia is “likely” behind the “apparent surge” and “wave” of attacks, and there is a “picture emerging.” Russian intelligence is also looking for a “broad array” of information from non-governmental organization (NGOs).

CNN continued, “The Times said email services for employees are outsourced to Google. CNN requested comment from Google but didn’t receive comment.” Google is known for not commenting on pretty much anything. But the WikiLeaks Twitter account noted, “Big story burried[sic]: NYTimes outsourced all its email to Google which is part of the NSA’s PRISM intercept system.”

Finally, CNN said, “The FBI declined to comment.” Apparently FBI was not the source of the intelligence.

Immediately upon the release of the CNN story, Nicole Perlroth, who is a reporter at The New York Times (NYT), posted a Tweet: “CNN report re NYT hack is not accurate. Story coming shortly.” Two hours later, she Tweeted again, “CNN report overblown/inaccurate on several levels.”

The New York Times headline did not seem so different: “New York Times’s Moscow Bureau Was Targeted by Hackers.” The main “overblown/inaccurate” aspect of the story — the occurrence was “an attempted cyberattack this month. But so far, there is no evidence that the hackers, believed to be Russian, were successful.” (bold added) So, it’s still the Russians either way. However, we may rest assured that any news being withheld by The New York Times remains safe.

Both articles describe “briefs” by the press to those unnamed government officials. The press is briefing the government, and the government is the source of the claims of Russian hacking.

As different as NYT would like to make its article from CNN, the basics are the same: Russian intelligence is busy trying to hack news organizations and NGOs.

NYT is looking forward to a “response” to the attacks.

President Obama will have to decide whether the evidence of Russian responsibility for the breach is strong enough to warrant an American response. If so, he would also have to determine whether that response would take the form of quiet warnings, economic sanctions or even a counterattack of some kind.

Based on these two articles, the evidence is not strong enough to even report the story — less yet to push for a response.

(picture credit)