A highly targeted attack on Google China and 20 other high profile companies including Adobe Systems has led to a major controversy. The attack that hit Google in mid December originated in China and was targeted to get email credentials of human right activists who are advocates of human rights in China based in Europe, America and China. The attack was discovered as Google uncovered similar attacks on at least 20 other companies in the financial, technology, media, and chemical industries. Adobe Systems issued a separate statement that reported it and other companies had also come under attack. In light of the revelations, Google said it is considering shuttering its Chinese operations altogether.
“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,” Google’s chief legal officer David Drummond commented here. “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.”
The attack resulted into a breach of 2 email accounts, and the company has quoted that no major information except date of account creation and the subject line was compromised rather than the content of email itself. Also the names of 20 companies have also been omitted. Recent attacks on Adobe pdf readers and applications to bind malware code with them has been on rise and the timing of Google’s warning and the official statement of Adobe has led to a speculation that some of attacks may have used the Adobe applications or exploits. Google also mentioned in a separate blog post that servers of companies have not been targeted.
China has been known for its quite controlled internet policies and Chinese hackers have recently gained notoriety along with Russian ones in the scene. With the rising attacks on major companies, let’s see what steps silicon giants take to counter it.