State-sponsored hackers from China, North Korea, Iran and Turkey have been regularly spying on and impersonating journalists from various media outlets in an effort to infiltrate their networks and gain access to sensitive information, according to a report released on Thursday by cybersecurity firm Proofpoint.


The report reveals that government-backed hackers used various tools to target journalists, including sending phishing emails to gain access to reporters’ work emails, social media accounts and networks.


The report also suggested that state-sponsored hackers routinely pose as members of the media because of the “unique access and information they can provide,” to those countries’ governments.


The hackers could potentially use information they obtained from compromised accounts to spread pro-state propaganda and influence “a politically charged atmosphere.”


“A well-timed, successful attack on a journalist’s email account could provide insights into sensitive, budding stories and source identification,” the report said.