Google Threatens Pullout From China After E-Mail Accounts Are Hacked
Google threatened to end its operations in China after it discovered that the e-mail accounts of human rights activists had been breached.
The company said it had detected a "highly sophisticated and targeted attack on our corporate infrastructure originating from China." Google says further investigation revealed that "a primary goal of the attackers was accessing the Gmail accounts of Chinese human rights activists." Google did not specifically accuse the Chinese government. But the company added that it is "no longer willing to continue censoring our results" on its Chinese search engine, as the government requires. Google says the decision could force it to shut down its Chinese site and its offices in the country.
Google Says Attack From China Was Aimed at Dissidents that
By BY THE NEW YORK TIMES
Google said, in a calm and understated blog post, that it came under cyber attack. It said the attack was very different from previous ones because it was aimed at Chinese dissidents’ Gmail accounts. It said the attacks may result in Google shutting down its operations in China.
Its explanation, posted by David Drummond the company’s chief legal officer, said:
First, this attack was not just on Google. As part of our investigation we have discovered that at least twenty other large companies from a wide range of businesses"including the Internet, finance, technology, media and chemical sectors"have been similarly targeted. We are currently in the process of notifying those companies, and we are also working with the relevant U.S. authorities.
Second, we have evidence to suggest that a primary goal of the attackers was accessing the Gmail accounts of Chinese human rights activists. Based on our investigation to date we believe their attack did not achieve that objective. Only two Gmail accounts appear to have been accessed, and that activity was limited to account information (such as the date the account was created) and subject line, rather than the content of emails themselves.
Third, as part of this investigation but independent of the attack on Google, we have discovered that the accounts of dozens of U.S.-, China- and Europe-based Gmail users who are advocates of human rights in China appear to have been routinely accessed by third parties. These accounts have not been accessed through any security breach at Google, but most likely via phishing scams or malware placed on the users’ computers.
Google said it was going to review its business operations in China in light of the incidents.
We have decided we are no longer willing to continue censoring our results on Google.cn, 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 Google.cn, and potentially our offices in China.
Google also advised its users to take cautionary steps:
We would advise people to deploy reputable anti-virus and anti-spyware programs on their computers, to install patches for their operating systems and to update their web browsers. Always be cautious when clicking on links appearing in instant messages and emails, or when asked to share personal information like passwords online.