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Pattaya Daily News

04 June 2011 :: 10:06:12 am 54515

Chinese Hackers Accused of US Government Google Hack

An investigation has been launched by the FBI into allegations that the Google mail accounts of senior US government officials have been tapped into by Chinese hackers.
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China responded with hostility to the suggestions made by the secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, that it was behind the attacks on the email addresses of hundreds of military and government personnel from the US and South Korea.

Hong Lei, a spokesperson for the Chinese foreign ministry called the accusation “a total fabrication” made by those “with ulterior motives”.

“Hacking attacks are an international issue,” he continued at a press conference in Beijing. “China is also a victim.”

Other than US government officials, Google claimed that the scam also targeted Chinese political activists, officials in several Asian countries, military personnel and journalists.

“These allegations are very serious,” Clinton told reporters after the attacks. “We take them seriously and are looking into them.” No further comments were made by Clinton on the matter and questions were then referred to both Google and “to the FBI who will be conducting the investigation.”

Attacks such as this were a key reason the state deprtment has for the first time created a cyber-security co-ordinator. “We know this is going to be a continuing problem,” said Clinton, “and therefore we want to be as prepared as possible to deal with these matters when they do come to our attention.”

In a move with considerable implications for the militarisation of cyberspace, it emerged this week that the US government intends to broaden laws to use armed conflict in retaliation to cyber attacks, making cyber attacks a potential act of war.

According to Googel, the scam had been traced to Jinan in the Shandong province, commonly believed to be at the core of Chinese cyber surveillance.

These cyber attacks, referred to as spear-phishing, work by taking control of their targets email accounts by tricking them into revealing their log-ins and passwords, depending solely on human lapses.

Because they rely on their victims to slip-up, it is a considered a comparatively unsophisticated form of cyber attack that does not necessarily compromise hi-tech security systems. Targets would receive an email which appeared to come from a colleague or close associate to which a file appeared to be attached.

The hackers had used formal, jargon-heavy language that would provide the message with a sense of credibility to its recipient. One example given, an email headed “Fw: Draft US-China Joint Statement”, read: “This is the latest version of State’s joint statement. My understanding is that State put in placeholder econ language and am happy to have us fill in but in their rush to get a cleared version from the WH, they sent the email attached to Mke.”

When recipients then clicked on the apparent attachment, a page almost identical to the Gmail page would open, where users were driven to enter their user name and password, exactly how they would do if normally logging on to their own account.

When asked about the length of time it took Google to make a public statement regarding the scale of the scam, Mila Parkour, a technology blogger based in Washington DC said: “Looks like they exhausted all the leads and found out as much as they could to address it before going public. Sometimes it is best to finish the investigation before public notice not to alert the bad actors. It has been three months and considering that hundreds of victims are involved, it is not too long.”

Written by : Kyle Pala

Photo : Internet   Category : World News

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