Symantec to NYT: Chinese Hack Not Our Fault

Friday, 1 Feb 2013 | 2:08 PM ET
Photo: Getty Images

The Chinese aren't the only ones denying responsibility for the cyberattacks on The New York Times. Symantec begs to differ with the newspaper's suggestion that it might be partially to blame for a security lapse that missed most of the intrusions.

The Times reported Thursday that Chinese hackers — possibly in the military — were to blame for repeated attacks on the media company's computer systems. But the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei denied the claims, calling them "groundless."

(Read More: Hackers in China Attacked The Times for Last 4 Months)

The Times said: "Over the course of three months, attackers installed 45 pieces of custom malware. The Times — which uses antivirus products made by Symantec — found only one instance in which Symantec identified an attacker's software as malicious and quarantined it, according to Mandiant." Mandiant is the computer security firm that traced the intrusions to China.

China's Hacking Prowess
Patrick Chovanec, Associate Professor, Tsinghua University says that allegations that Chinese hackers attacked the New York Times was no big surprise. He also says that China's new leaders are still obsessed about controlling the narrative on China.

(Read More: Businesses Facing Increasing Cyber Threats: Security Experts )

Symantec, which usually doesn't comment on its clients, said the Times didn't use its tools efficiently.

"Advanced attacks like the ones the New York Times described in the following article underscore how important it is for companies, countries and consumers to make sure they are using the full capability of security solutions," it said in a statement. "The advanced capabilities in our endpoint offerings, including our unique reputation-based technology and behavior-based blocking, specifically target sophisticated attacks."

(Read More: How to Protect Your Devices From New Hack Threat)

"Turning on only the signature-based anti-virus components of endpoint solutions alone are not enough in a world that is changing daily from attacks and threats. We encourage customers to be very aggressive in deploying solutions that offer a combined approach to security. Anti-virus software alone is not enough."

According the security firm Kaspersky Labs, there are over 200,000 new malware samples discovered every day—up from 125,000 at the beginning of 2012—and the number is growing. With that kind of volume, it's no wonder business and security firms are struggling to battle cyberthreats.

(Read More: Warning: New Hack Threat Leaves Millions at Risk of Cyberattack )

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