More Bad News from China, This Time Related to Google
Article by George Norman
On 14 Jan 2010
China has made the headlines this week when news broke out that it banned popular movie review site IMDb. Then it made the news a second time when we found out that its number one search engine, got hacked by the Iranian Cyber Army. The site wasn’t actually hacked, the DNS was hijacked; and to retaliate, Chinese hackers decided to target high profile Iranian sites.

The latest news comes from Google who revealed that someone in China conducted a “highly sophisticated and targeted attack” on Google’s corporate infrastructure. There are plenty of details to report about the attack, so here goes:


- The attack took place in mid-December and it hit at least 20 other large companies, such as Adobe, who confirmed the attack.
- Intellectual property from Google was stolen, but the cloud-based data of Google’s customers remained secure.
- The attack’s main goal was to access the Gmail accounts of Chinese human rights activists. Google believes only two accounts were compromised.
- Google’s investigation revealed that third parties routinely access the accounts of human rights advocates from China, the US and Europe. These accounts have been accessed via phishing scams or malware installed on the victim’s computer, not via a Gmail security breach.

“These attacks and the surveillance they have uncovered--combined with the attempts over the past year to further limit free speech on the web--have led us to conclude that we should review the feasibility of our business operations in China. We have decided we are no longer willing to continue censoring our results on, and so over the next few weeks we will be discussing with the Chinese government the basis on which we could operate an unfiltered search engine within the law, if at all. We recognize that this may well mean having to shut down, and potentially our offices in China,” said David Drummond, SVP, Corporate Development and Chief Legal Officer

China’s response is that Google can do whatever it wants – as long as it obeys the law. And the law in China - as Wang Chen, director of the State Council Information Office put it – says that “effective guidance of public opinion on the Internet is an important way of protecting the security of online information.” Censorship is the norm in China, and if Google doesn’t want to censor the search results it displays, then it can just close shop.

“The decision to review our business operations in China has been incredibly hard, and we know that it will have potentially far-reaching consequences. We want to make clear that this move was driven by our executives in the United States, without the knowledge or involvement of our employees in China who have worked incredibly hard to make the success it is today. We are committed to working responsibly to resolve the very difficult issues raised,” added David Drummond.

Tags: China, Google, Hack, Attack, Censorship
About the author: George Norman
George is a news editor.
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More Bad News from China, This Time Related to Google
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