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WASHINGTON: Media giant News Corp said Friday it was hit by hackers who stole company data in an attack that the firm’s cybersecurity consultant said could likely be traced back to China.

The “persistent cyberattack activity” was discovered last month, and News Corp-owned Wall Street Journal reported that emails and documents of employees including journalists were targeted.

It is the latest major entity to report a digital breach, with targets ranging from hospitals to farming collectives and government agencies hit by hacks and cyberextortion.

News Corp told US market regulator Securities Exchange Commission in a filing that the “company’s preliminary analysis indicates that foreign government involvement may be associated with this activity, and that data was taken.”

Cybersecurity firm Mandiant, hired to help investigate, said in a statement that “those behind this activity have a China nexus, and we believe they are likely involved in espionage activities to collect intelligence to benefit China’s interests.”

Washington has suspected for years that China is conducting cyberattacks against US companies, organizations or government agencies, accusations that Beijing vigorously denies.

Over 2,000 FBI investigations “are focused on the Chinese government trying to steal our information or technology,” the agency’s director, Christopher Wray, said this week.

In particular, the United States has accused China of being responsible for the massive hack that targeted Microsoft’s Exchange email services in March 2021.

Beijing has denounced the allegations as baseless.

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