Washington: The Wall Street Journal was hit with a cyberattack that stole data of journalists and other employees of News Corp, the newspaper's parent company said hinting that the attack was meant to help China, according to the US media report.

News Corp, the news publishing empire owned by Rupert Murdoch, was the target of a cyberattack that hacked the email accounts of journalists and others at the company, in a breach that a digital security firm said was meant to help China, The New York Times reported.

The hack was disclosed in a securities filing on Friday, reported The NYT, adding that News Corp said it had discovered the attack on one of its systems in January.

David Kline, News Corp's chief technology officer, said in an email to staff members on Friday that the company had notified US law enforcement and opened an investigation with the digital security firm Mandiant after the discovery.

Kline said the company believed the breach had affected "a limited number" of email accounts and documents from News Corp headquarters, News Technology Services, Dow Jones, News UK and The New York Post. Other News Corp properties, like News Corp Australia, HarperCollins Publishers and Storyful, were not believed to have been affected.

"Our preliminary analysis indicates that foreign government involvement may be associated with this activity and that some data was taken," Kline wrote in the email, which was viewed by The New York Times. "Mandiant assesses that those behind this activity have a China nexus and believes they are likely involved in espionage activities to collect intelligence to benefit China's interests."

According to The New York Times, Kline said that the company believed the threat had been contained and that customer and financial data had not been hacked.

While, Liu Pengyu, a spokesman for the Chinese Embassy in Washington, said in an email that he was not aware of the reported details about the hack, as per The NYT.

Escalating tensions between China and the United States in recent years have ensnared the news media. In 2020, China expelled American reporters working for The Times, The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post by cancelling their media credentials, forcing out more than a dozen journalists.

The United States and China agreed in November to ease the restrictions on foreign journalists in each country, which was expected to allow The Times, The Journal and The Post to send some reporters back to China.

However, foreign journalists in China are facing "unprecedented hurdles," including increased intimidation and harassment for doing their jobs, according to a report released on January 31 by the Foreign Correspondents' Club of China, The New York Times reported.