By Susan Heavey; Additional reporting by David Ingram in Washington and Liana Baker in New York
WASHINGTON | Fri Jun 14, 2013 2:17pm EDT

(Reuters) – A CBS News investigative reporter’s computer was remotely accessed by an unauthorized party several times late last year, the news organization said on Friday, citing an analysis by an outside cyber security firm.

The review found that Washington-based reporter Sharyl Attkisson’s computer “was accessed by an unauthorized, external, unknown party on multiple occasions late in 2012,” CBS News spokeswoman Sonya McNair said in a statement.

The forensic analysis showed the hacker appeared to have searched and extracted data, and then “used sophisticated methods” to cover up the unauthorized activity, McNair added.

McNair said CBS News is “taking steps to identify the responsible party and their method of access.”

Attkisson is known for reporting on the anti-gun-trafficking program Operation Fast and Furious, as well as on the attack in September on the U.S. outpost in Benghazi, Libya, in which the U.S. ambassador to Libya was killed.

Fast and Furious was aimed at slowing the flow of illegal firearms from Arizona to Mexico but instead it allowed some weapons to be trafficked. A Justice Department internal watchdog later condemned the program’s strategy of ignoring low-level gun purchases, and several department officials including the U.S. attorney in Arizona resigned.

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