Last week, Google Inc. (GOOG)
had to scramble to deflect a concerted effort to steal
hundreds of user passwords from its popular email service Gmail. The company says the
concerted phishing attack specifically targeted a cadre of high ranking targets
-- "senior U.S. government officials, Chinese political activists,
officials in several Asian countries, military personnel and journalists"
-- much like a separate
March attack which Google detected. Google traced the attacks to IPs in
the city of Jinan, the capital of China's eastern Shandong province and home to
the headquarters of the intelligence unit of the People's Liberation Army.
On Monday a Chinese state-run newspaper, People's
Google (Chinese) for claiming the attacks traced back to its
nation. The newspaper billed Google a "political tool" used by
the West to vilify the Asian giant. It said that Google's statements
could damage its position in China.
The threats are serious as People's Daily is
the largest overseas newspaper of the Communist Party regime in China, and acts
as somewhat of a government mouthpiece. The newspaper accused Google of
"deliberately pandering to negative Western perceptions of China, and
strongly hinting that the hacking attacks were the work of the Chinese
The attacks article follows an official denial
from officials at the Chinese Foreign Ministry, who claimed the attacks did not
originate from China.
The article contained plenty of other juicy
attacks on Google.
"Google's accusations aimed at China are
spurious, have ulterior motives, and bear malign intentions," it read.
"Google should not become overly embroiled in
international political struggle, playing the role of a tool for political
contention. For when the international winds shift direction, it may
become sacrificed to politics and will be spurned by the marketplace."
The government-run newspaper didn't elaborate what
steps would be taken to "spurn" Google from the market place.
The Chinese government is reportedly still
paranoid that the "contagion" of rebellion in the Middle East could
infect its populous. The nation has blocked Facebook and Twitter to try
to choke the flow of unregulated information. The group has also imprisoned
several individuals including
famed modern artist Ai Weiwei. These recent behaviors have drawn
international condemnation from the U.S. and others.
The U.S. government's largest military contractor
Lockheed Martin Corp. (LMT)
was recently the victim
of a major cyber attack that some sources close to the case say is believed to
have initiated from China. The attack was a sophisticated one, which
Lockheed Martin just confirmed was enabled by information
stolen from famed security firm RSA.
Tensions between the U.S. government and China
have been running high on a number of issues, including censorship, rare earth
metal trade, and contract bids.
For Google, these latest developments must feel
like the latest chapter in a long and abusive relationship. The company
had its source code stolen from attackers traced to Chinese IPs. After
finding little sympathy from the Chinese government, the company uncensored
its search engine, only to be banned
from China. Google eventually agreed to re-censor its search to avoid
missing out on the lucrative market and has since
been relicensed, though much tension remain.