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Foreign Journalists in China Suffer Hacked Email Accounts: Yahoo, This Time

Add another one to the growing pile: reports have come in that several foreign journalists working in China have had their Yahoo-based email accounts hacked.

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The AP reports that at least three journalists and one analyst working in China, all of them foreign, were greeted with a brusque “We’ve detected an issue with your account” when trying to log in to their Yahoo email accounts. The puzzled users were told to contact Yahoo, and Yahoo technicians informed one that his account had indeed been hacked before restoring access.

These are just four examples, and it’s not clear how related they are, but anecdotal evidence suggests a more widespread problem: All four “had heard of other colleagues having similar
problems, including one journalist who lost his Yahoo account entirely in January.” More evidence:

Clifford Coonan, China correspondent for The Independent and the Irish Times newspapers, said he received the
“issue with your account” notice when he logged in Tuesday. Another
reporter said she received repeated error messages from Yahoo last
month.

The Western analyst said he was locked out of his account for four or
five days, until he spoke with a Yahoo representative Monday who went through the
security questions and restarted it.

“He said somebody had hacked into my registration details,” said the
analyst, who would not give his name, citing the sensitivity of the
issue. The analyst said he was concerned hackers may have also accessed
his inbox.

Right now, nobody’s sure exactly what’s going on. The reports are not as common as those suffered by Google-using Chinese activists, and it’s not clear if journalists are specifically being targeted. Yahoo, for its part, condemned all hacking and promised to “take appropriate action” when necessary.

Yahoo has a curious history with China–it is much more entrenched in the country than, for example, Google or GoDaddy, and at one point its Hong Kong branch was even accused of colluding with the Chinese government, leading to the jailing of a prominent Chinese journalist. But that was a few years ago, and there’s no indication that Yahoo is anything but what they appear to be, regarding the current hacking: pissed.

About the author

Dan Nosowitz is a freelance writer and editor who has written for Popular Science, The Awl, Gizmodo, Fast Company, BuzzFeed, and elsewhere. He holds an undergraduate degree from McGill University and currently lives in Brooklyn, because he has a beard and glasses and that's the law.

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