CBS probe finds computer of lead Benghazi reporter was hacked

A probe commissioned by CBS News has confirmed the suspicions of reporter Sharyl Attkisson, who said last month amid revelations the Justice Department snooped on Associated Press and Fox News reporters that she believed her own computer had been hacked, the network said.

The network said it has not determined who was behind the breach of Attkisson's computer, but said the hacker “used sophisticated methods to remove all possible indications of unauthorized activity, and alter system times to cause further confusion.”

Last month, amid new revelations the Justice Department spied on reporters and editors from The Associated Press and secretly obtained phone records of Fox News reporter James Rosen, Atkisson told a Philadelphia radio station she believed her computer had been compromised and that she believed it may be related to the snooping scandal. The announcement from CBS did not draw any connection to the ongoing Justice Department scandal.


“A cyber security firm hired by CBS News has determined through forensic analysis that Sharyl Attkisson’s computer was accessed by an unauthorized, external, unknown party on multiple occasions late in 2012,” said CBS News spokeswoman Sonya McNair. “Evidence suggests this party performed all access remotely using Attkisson’s accounts. While no malicious code was found, forensic analysis revealed an intruder had executed commands that appeared to involve search and exfiltration of data.”

The statement said whoever went through Attkisson’s computer “used sophisticated methods to remove all possible indications of unauthorized activity, and alter system times to cause further confusion.” The network said it is working to identify who was behind the breach and how they did it.

The Justice Department, already under fire over the AP snooping scandal, released a statement at the time Attkisson first raised the issue.

“To our knowledge, the Justice Department has never compromised Ms. Attkisson’s computers, or otherwise sought any information from or concerning any telephone, computer, or other media device she may own or use,” the statement read.

Attkisson, who said the investigation also encompassed her home computer, tweeted the CBS statement on Friday

The veteran reporter, who worked at CNN before joining CBS 20 years ago, was among the few reporters to ask the White House uncomfortable questions about now-discredited talking points it pushed blaming an Egyptian filmmaker for the Sept. 11, 2012 deadly attack on a Libyan consulate in Benghazi.

Her work won admiration in some quarters, but also drew a backlash from some media outlets. Last month, liberal website Politico, citing unnamed sources at CBS, said Attkisson’s bosses at Blackrock saw her “wading dangerously close to advocacy on the issue.”