Print 25 comment(s) - last by mostyle.. on Jun 5 at 8:41 PM

The attacks targeted the Gmail accounts of senior U.S. government officials, Chinese political activists, officials in several Asian countries, military personnel and journalists

Google has announced that Chinese hackers are at it again -- this time, targeting Gmail account holders. However, this isn't the first time that Google has come under attack. In January 2010, Google suffered a cyber attack that used malicious code called "Aurora," which targeted the Gmail accounts of human rights activists. The attack was traced back to China, and Google ultimately decided to partially pull out of China last year over issues regarding censorship. This decision has put a growing strain on Google's relationship with China.

Google has now announced that Chinese hackers have used phishing schemes to steal the passwords of "hundreds of Google email account holders." 

Google said the hack originated from the capital of China's eastern Shandong province, Jinan. Jinan contains one of the six technical reconnaissance bureaus that belong to the People's Liberation Army, as well as a technical college. A previous attack on Google was traced back to this area before. 

Technical reconnaissance bureaus are responsible for China's electronic eavesdropping, and according to the U.S.-China Economic and Security Commission, these bureaus are likely gearing toward the "defense or exploitation of foreign networks."

While hacking is considered a hobby in China that the Chinese government allegedly condones, Google didn't directly blame the Chinese government for the recent attack. However, an anonymous former U.S. government official said the Chinese government is likely partially responsible as a result of Beijing's fears that "contagion from the Arab 'jasmine' uprisings could spread to China." But the official also believes that independent Chinese citizens are partially responsible as well, saying that they have the government's approval to perform a security breach.

The Chinese government has denied Google's accusations regarding the recent attacks, as it has in the past. For example, hacking attacks last year, which targeted Google and over 20 other companies, were traced back to the Lanxiang Vocational School in Jinan, but the school denied that it had anything to do with it. 

"Blaming these misdeeds on China is unacceptable," said Hong Lei, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman. "Hacking is an international problem and China is also a victim. The claims of so-called Chinese state support for hacking are completely fictitious and have ulterior motives."

The most recent attack on Gmail accounts, which attempted to trick Gmail users into providing personal information through the use of highly personalized messages and a document for them to download, changed the email forwarding settings of Gmail accounts in order to send emails to other accounts. 

Luckily, Google was able to detect the hackers' attempts and notified the victims immediately. The FBI is now working with Google following the attacks, while Washington investigates Google's claims. 

"We recently uncovered a campaign to collect user passwords, likely through phishing," said said Google. "It affected what seem to be the personal Gmail accounts of hundreds of users, including, among others, senior U.S. government officials, Chinese political activists, officials in several Asian countries, military personnel and journalists."

The Pentagon recently announced that cyber attacks on government entities could be considered an act of war

"We'll certainly see more of this in the future, as Chinese hackers -- independent and otherwise -- target Google because of its global popularity and its decision to defy the Chinese government on censorship, which some hackers will misconstrue as being anti-Chinese," said Michael Clendenin, managing director of RedTech Advisors.

Hacking has become a major issue lately, with multinational companies being the recipients of many of these attacks. For instance, consumer electronics corporation Sony was hacked several times over the last month, losing user information and credit card numbers linked to its PlayStation Network (PSN) and Sony Online Entertainment (SOE) databases. After that fiasco, the U.S. government's top IT provider Lockheed Martin was hacked through the use of stolen RSA information.

Earlier this week, Australia's government warned its resource corporations of cyber attacks becoming more frequent, and worried that the country's resources may be at risk as well after a successful cyber attack was launched against Australia's parliament in February. What seems odd, though, is that Australia's largest oil and gas company, Woodside Petroleum, defended China, saying not to "just pick on the Chinese."

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Can I just ask...
By Motoman on 6/2/2011 11:25:02 AM , Rating: 3
The attacks targeted the Gmail accounts of senior U.S. government officials


RE: Can I just ask...
By omnicronx on 6/2/2011 11:28:55 AM , Rating: 2
Most likely just personal accounts..

RE: Can I just ask...
By cjohnson2136 on 6/2/2011 11:31:32 AM , Rating: 2
What's wrong with them using gmail for a personal account?

RE: Can I just ask...
By aegisofrime on 6/2/2011 12:11:17 PM , Rating: 2
What's wrong will be if they use it for official reasons, which Palin did IIRC.

RE: Can I just ask...
By Aloonatic on 6/2/2011 11:50:37 AM , Rating: 2
Maybe they just send themselves important passwords and documents so that they can just go to their gmail account wherever they go.

Just me then? :oD

RE: Can I just ask...
By Reclaimer77 on 6/2/2011 11:56:02 AM , Rating: 2
Yeah they should use a Government email client that has a 3 year development projection (8 years actual), costs $3,000,000 (over budget), runs half as slow and is actually less secure than Google.

Sorry, couldn't resist :P

RE: Can I just ask...
By omnicronx on 6/2/2011 12:12:51 PM , Rating: 2
By secure do you mean they don't make use of any kind of security protocol during transfer and the account data itself that resides within their servers is completely unencrypted and could theoretically be accessed by anyone at Google with a little nohow? (or for that matter if they are breached)

Yep.. so secure ;)

Love Gmail and have been using it almost since its inception, but its hardly the most secure of environments ;)

RE: Can I just ask...
By M4gery on 6/2/2011 11:59:55 AM , Rating: 2

For personal acccounts, or for things they want to keep off the public record. Any piece of data residing on government-owned servers is subject to open records.

RE: Can I just ask...
By Uncle on 6/2/2011 1:01:47 PM , Rating: 2
Because they want some privacy and don't want the gov to read their emails. Theirs government business and then their is private business.
Remember " anything and everything you say will be and can be used against you in a court of law."

RE: Can I just ask...
By nxjwfgwe on 6/3/2011 7:45:59 AM , Rating: 1

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By omnicronx on 6/2/2011 11:34:14 AM , Rating: 5
I don't really consider phishing schemes as Google being hacked..

PEBKAC *caugh*

RE: hacked?
By Yames on 6/2/2011 12:38:58 PM , Rating: 2
They never said Google got hacked, rather Google accounts got hacked.

RE: hacked?
By omnicronx on 6/2/2011 1:04:40 PM , Rating: 2
Fine.. Replace 'Google' with 'Google Accounts'..

Either way social engineering is not hacking.

Though I'm curious to know how you can hack a Google account without going through Google ;)

RE: hacked?
By zmatt on 6/3/2011 8:23:39 AM , Rating: 2
Not true. Mitnick said that every good hack is 50% technical and 50% social engineering. back before hacking had it's current definition, MIT and Harvard students gave it a definition that was closer to trolling than compromising computer systems. Phishing is a definitely a hack. It depends on the stupidity of the user sure, but it's still a hack.

RE: hacked?
By mostyle on 6/5/2011 8:41:56 PM , Rating: 2
Back in the day.. We called it 'Social Engineering' and it was a very valid part of hacking. It often would provide you the point of access to a network or targeted information.. Or to obfuscate call sources.

It alone isn't hacking, no.. A very valid part of hacking, yes..

If google doesn't like it
By bh192012 on 6/2/2011 12:50:14 PM , Rating: 2
Why don't they implement the real 'great firewall of China" and actually firewall them? Follow suit for all major attacks. If someone claims proxy, then ask them to trace/firewall/cleanup and stop the attacks before we (maybe) unblock them. Eventually we'll have the originating countries isolated.

Would we really miss Nigeria if they were firewalled into network oblivion?

RE: If google doesn't like it
By Uncle on 6/2/2011 1:07:49 PM , Rating: 2
Its funny that you mention that. My wife gets pinged from two ip addresses originating out of China every second day when she logs on. Got tired of her complaining so I filtered them out.

RE: If google doesn't like it
By mcnabney on 6/2/2011 4:20:42 PM , Rating: 2
You would be amazed how much noise goes away when you filter out China, SE Asia, Russia, and the old Soviet states. Seriously. Attempted intrusions drop from several dozen a day to maybe once a month - tops.

Act of War?
By kb9fcc on 6/2/2011 11:52:06 AM , Rating: 2
So, with the Pentagon just classifying cyber-attacks as an "Act of War", does that mean we're now at war with China? Just peachy.

RE: Act of War?
By M4gery on 6/2/2011 12:02:25 PM , Rating: 2
So, with the Pentagon just classifying cyber-attacks as an "Act of War", does that mean we're now at war with China? Just peachy.

Hell, The Gov't probably would think its ideal, then they could say all the money we owe them will go for reparations of them attacking us.

If you know where they are
By corduroygt on 6/2/2011 12:19:45 PM , Rating: 2
Send in Seal Team 6, guaranteed results.

By Crazy_about_Google on 6/3/2011 5:39:22 AM , Rating: 2
with Google recently attempting to centralise all their services to be accessed with one single accounts...imagine the danger of having a gmail account hacked, for me that will mean: Developpers Tools, Maps, Voice, and even CheckOut! Thats scary I think people need to use the principle that says: "neve put all your eggs in one basket" *winks*

Turn it around
By sabbede on 6/3/2011 12:30:14 PM , Rating: 2
Google needs to go on the offensive. Screw pulling operations from China, they need to actively disrupt the Green Dam and hack the hell out of Chinese Gov't assets. Steal emails from the Chinese gov't for a change.
Really, what could the Chinese gov't do that they haven't already done or tried to do?

By Yantler0 on 6/4/2011 2:23:17 PM , Rating: 2
One thing I will say is that I truly think that what google has done for the everyday person is amazing.

They have released a program that will allow people to make money online by allowing them to fully and LEGALLY exploit there search engine for profit. Not very many people are in the know about it but those that do are honestly making a killing on the side.

heres a link if you all want to check it out for yourself. It's flat out amazing !


The funny thing is that even though they have released this information it kind of comes across as if they don't want people to know about it. It give you that mind set of someone that's a part a pretty strong underground group where all the members just sit back and make a killing under the radar !

Google Gmail Accout Hacked
By UrbanaJoker on 6/5/2011 8:34:41 AM , Rating: 2
I guess everytime Google gets hacked, they always blame it on someone else. Why can't they blame themselves for their systems loophole.They should own this mess up and say, we fix it.

And their system is Federally Certified?

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