Hacking China Gone Wild

The Peoples Republic of China sure has been busy making it into the headlines the past few days:

Early Tuesday morning, China’s premier internet search engine Baidu, was attacked by the group calling themselves the Iranian Cyber Army. The DoS attack which took place over the night rendered the search giant’s website unavailable throughout most of the morning with one Taiwanese version of the site still recovering. The attack vector used on Baidu seems to be the same internal credentials method in which the Iranian Cyber Army used against Twitter just last month.

With this type of DNS attack seeming to be all the rage these days; it didn’t take long for Chinese hackers to slap back with a message of their own. Within hours of Baidu going down, at least two Iranian website have been compromised with more said to be on the way. This isn’t the last we’ll hear of this intercontinental cyber-street-fight…

Stealing the headlines late yesterday though was the news that Google.cn was attacked as part of a large scale sophisticated attack on their infrastructure. According to Tuesday evenings blog post, the mid-December attack targeted various Gmail accounts of Chinese human rights activists. The attackers however, were not able to gain total access into the email accounts; they only obtained bits of information from the subject line of the emails. As a form of retaliation, Google has since stopped censoring search results in China and threatened to pull out of the country all together.

While the details of this story are slow to unfold, it is looking more and more like a high profile corporate espionage operation organized or maybe even sponsored by Chinese government. A statement from Leslie Harris, president and CEO of the Center for Democracy and Technology seems to echo that fact: “They wouldn’t be taking an action suggesting that they cannot operate in China … if it was not related to the Chinese government,” she said.

Based on recent posts by Adobe and now news that Yahoo may have been targeted as well, a statement issued by the US government is letting China know that they are taking these allegations very seriously. It will be interesting to see what comes of all this as more details are emerging by the minute.

Blog post by:  Sean Hausauer

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