Last Wednesday, Google accused Chinese hackers of breaking into Gmail accounts, including those of US government officials and military personnel.
From the Washington Post:
Vast quantities of e-mail content were accessed as the hackers allegedly used a ¡°phishing¡± campaign to trick users of the popular e-mail service into revealing their passwords, allowing the perpetrators to monitor incoming and outgoing messages.
Google said the targeted attack appeared to originate from the Chinese city of Jinan and also hit the Gmail accounts of journalists, Chinese political activists and South Korean and other Asian officials.
The episode escalated tensions between the search giant and the country with the world¡¯s biggest Internet user base. Google pointed the finger at China last year after an attack on its network. The Lanxiang Vocational School, which trains some computer scientists for the Chinese military, is located in Jinan, where the latest campaign appeared to originate. The school was implicated in last year¡¯s hacking attack on Google.
A Chinese Foreign Affairs Ministry official said Thursday that ¡°any blame against China in this [latest incident] is groundless and with an ulterior motive.¡± The official, Hong Lei, said in an e-mailed statement that the ¡°Chinese government is firmly opposed to any cyber criminal activity, including hacking . . . [and] is ready to cooperate with the international community to combat against it.¡±
In less than a week, American cyber security experts made another accusation against Chinese hackers, calling them ¡°cyber spies.¡± This time, these experts found that the cyber spies are targeting Chinese Experts specifically.
From the Wall Street Journal:
Chinese cyberspies, who targeted the personal Gmail accounts of top U.S. officials, are trying to gain access to computers belonging to China specialists and defense contractors who circulate in and out of the U.S. government and talk regularly with those in power, according to security experts who have tracked these schemes.
The stealth infiltration campaign, similar in tactics to the Gmail scheme that Google Inc. disclosed last week, represents cyberspies’ efforts to circumvent the high security walls on official government email accounts.
Targeting people on the periphery of power is more likely to pay off because their computer systems are often less protected than the U.S. government, and these individuals frequently discuss sensitive issues with those in government. That was likely why the Google infiltrators targeted the personal emails of government officials.
Nevertheless, the Chinese government claimed once again that such accusation was unwarranted.
From the Economic Times:
A cyber defense expert at Tsinghua University, Dai Yiqi, said the American experts did not furnish technically convincing evidence of such an accusation, but only on the resemblance of this incident to previous ones in tactics, which was rather reckless.
“If American experts accuse Chinese hackers for the attack, they are supposed to provide sufficient proof, rather than ask the accused to prove themselves innocent”, said Ding Xiangshun, an associate professor from the Law School of Renmin University of China.
He further said that even if the source of the attack was spotted, it was not necessarily the true base of attackers.
Shi Yinhong, another professor, believed that the true intent of these accusations was to point finger at the Chinese government.
These accusations might severely erode the mutual trust between China and the US if no negotiations are to be made.