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chinese hacker

For the past four months the New York Times has been under attack by Chinese hackers, the newspaper says.

The hackers were able to "infiltrate its computer systems" and get passwords from reporters and other employees. The Times says it hired an outside firm to study the hacks and block them for good. It also says that no customer information was leaked by these attacks.

The Times thinks the motivation was an investigation into the relatives of China's prime minister, Wen Jiabao, and how their business dealings turned them into billionaires.

The hackers were tricky about hiding their tracks. They used a technique called "spearphishing" where they sent emails laced with malicious links. Once opened, malware was secretly downloaded onto the recipients computers. The email was routed through U.S. universities to disguise their origin. These were the same U.S. universities used to disguise Chinese hacker attacks on the U.S. military, the Times says.

Chinese officials deny that the government or military were involved in the attacks.

These type of super targeted attacks, where hackers work to break into a specific company, are particularly hard to defend against. The industry calls them "advanced persistent threats." But there are some U.S. security startups with technology that can thwart them including FireEye, which earlier this month landed a $50 million round of financing and a big name new CEO, Dave DeWalt.

Don't miss: The 15 Most Important Security Startups Of 2013

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MOVING ON: A woman carried her baby and possessions through debris after a fire razed several shacks in Durban, South Africa, Monday. More than 100 people were left homeless in the Jadhu Place informal settlement. (Rogan Ward/Reuters)

FITTING: A shopkeeper adjusted traditional headgear of a bridegroom on the eve of the Akshaya Tritiya festival in Bhopal, India, Monday. More than 50,000 marriages will occur during the festival. (Sanjeev Gupta/European Pressphoto Agency)

CHECKMATE: Taxi drivers played chess as their cars lined a street during a strike Monday over tariffs for journeys to and from a new Berlin airport. (Thomas Peter/Reuters)

IN GERMANY: A vendor looked on as Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao and German Chancellor Angela Merkel visited the industrial Hanover Fair in Hanover, Germany, Monday. China is the fair’s official partner country this year; about 500 of the 5,000 exhibitors coming from there. (John MacDougall/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images)

SURROUNDED: Police kicked and beat a suspected informal settler accused of resisting a demolition operation in Parañaque, Philippines, Monday. At least 20 people were arrested, local media reported. (Rolex Dela Pena/European Pressphoto Agency)

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DRYING BY A FIRE: A Hindu holy man who had smeared ash on himself sat near a fire at Pashupatinath Temple in Katmandu, Nepal, Tuesday. Hindu holy men gathered at the temple for the Shivaratri festival, which celebrates lord Shiva. (Navesh Chitrakar/Reuters)

SLICING THROUGH THE AIR: Japan’s Taku Takeuchi soared through the air during a practice jump at the Ski Jumping World Cup in Klingenthal, Germany, Tuesday. (David W. Cerny/Reuters)

TAKING AIM: A soldier for the African Union’s mission in Somalia took up a position during fighting between Islamists and government forces in southern Mogadishu Tuesday. Somalia called for an end to an arms embargo on the country so it can better fight an al Qaeda-backed insurgency. (Feisal Omar/Reuters)

IN SYRIA: A rebel fighter looked on after Syrian army tanks entered Idlib, Syria, Tuesday. (Associated Press)

STICKING OUT…TOGETHER: A couple took pictures in an interactive art installation named ‘You and Me’ on Valentine’s Day in Beijing. (Feng Li/Getty Images)

WEN WAITS: Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao waited for European Union Commission President José Manuel Barroso and European Council President Herman Van Rompuy at the Great Hall of the People before their summit in Beijing Tuesday. (How Hwee-Young/Associated Press)

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China, the most populous country (1.3 billion people) and the second-largest economy in the world, is a vast, dynamic nation that continues to grow and evolve in the 21st century. Recent events in China include a successful satellite launch that lays the groundwork for a space station, the completion of a massive skyscraper in a rather small village, the 26th Universiade games for student athletes, the celebration of National Day, the Mid-Autumn Festival, and much more. This collection is only a small view of the people and places in China over the past several weeks. [49 photos]

Chinese artist Liu Bolin waits for his colleagues to put a finishing touch on him to blend into rows of soft drinks in his artwork entitled "Plasticizer" to express his speechlessness at use of plasticizer in food additives, in his studio at the 798 Art District in Beijing, China, on August 10, 2011. (AP Photo)

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This Big Picture post gives us a glimpse of daily life in parts of China, documented by wire photographers from the Associated Press, Reuters and Getty. The post begins with a short essay by Reuters photographer Jason Lee. Lee photographed six-year-old Wang Gengxiang, known as the "Masked Boy." Gengxiang was severely burned in an accident involving a burning pile of straw last winter. Most of the skin on the little boy's head was burned off, requiring him to wear a full surgical mask. The mask is said to prevent his scars from becoming infected. According to the local media in the village where Gengxiang was photographed, the doctors cannot continue his skin-graft surgery until his damaged trachea (or windpipe) is strong enough. The Lee essay is following by a black slide, and then more "slice of life" photography from a still somewhat mysterious China. -- Paula Nelson (50 photos total)
Wang Gengxiang on Children's Day, June 1, 2010, and after he was severely burned in an accident, at Mijiazhuang village on the outskirts of Fenyang, North China's Shanxi province, September 9, 2011. Gengxiang, age 6, known as "Masked Boy", was severely burned in an accident involving a burning pile of straw last winter. (Jason Lee/Reuters)

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ECONOMIC SUPERPOWERS ECONOMIC SUPERPOWERS: German Chancellor Angela Merkel, left, and Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao walked along a red carpet Tuesday outside the German in Berlin. The two leaders pledged to increase trade between their countries, the biggest economies of Europe and Asia. (Michael Kappeler/DPA/Zuma Press)

PRECAUTION PRECAUTION: A kiosk owner wore a gas mask on Tuesday while selling cigarettes during street clashes in Athens’s Syntagma Square. Workers staged a two-day strike against the near-bankrupt government, which is trying to push through austerity cuts. (Louisa Gouliamaki/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images)

A RABBI’S MOURNERS A RABBI’S MOURNERS: Orthodox Jews attended the Tuesday funeral of Rabbi Michel Yehuda Lefkowitz, who died at the age of 97, in the central Israeli city of Bnei Brak. (Jack Guez/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images)

A SHOW OF POWER A SHOW OF POWER: Zelzal ballistic missiles left behind a trail of smoke Tuesday after being launched by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard during the second day of its 10-day military exercises. (Mohammad Hasanzadeh/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images)

TRIBUTE TO A GODDESS TRIBUTE TO A GODDESS: An Indian artist sculpted clay idols of Durga, an Hindu goddess, on Tuesday in preparation for the Hindu festival Durga Puja. Durga Puja is a five-day celebration in which Hindus relive stories of the goddess’s exploits on Earth and her return to the land of the gods. (Dibyangshu Sarkar/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images)

CHAMPAGNE IN THE RAIN CHAMPAGNE IN THE RAIN: Spectators covered up with umbrellas and raincoats Tuesday when the rain stopped matches at the All England Lawn Tennis Championships at the week-long Wimbledon tennis tournament. (Kirsty Wigglesworth/Associated Press)

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