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Google Investigates Insider Threat After China Hack

Google is reportedly investigating claims of insider involvement in the security breach that prompted its confrontation with the Chinese Government

On by Tom Jowitt 1

Search engine giant Google is investigating whether some of its own staff are behind the repeated attempts to hack into the Gmail accounts of Chinese human rights activists.

Following the attacks earlier this month, Google warned that it was no longer willing to censor search results on its Chinese language site, www.google.cn, and was even considering closing its offices in China.

Google had reportedly discovered evidence that the cyber-attacks had originated from within China itself, and this was the culmination of several incidents, including the controversy it found itself in over the scanning of books by Chinese authors into Google Books.

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In response to Google’s threat, the Chinese government warned that Google must “follow the law” and reiterated that censorship is the law in China.

And now it seems that the attacks, which have been described as “highly sophisticated“, may have originated even closer to home after the news agency Reuters said that one or more of Google’s employees in China may have helped facilitate the cyber-attack.

Sources who are familiar with the situation, told Reuters that the attack, which targeted people who have access to specific parts of Google networks, may have been facilitated by people working in Google China’s office.

“We’re not commenting on rumour and speculation. This is an ongoing investigation, and we simply cannot comment on the details,” a Google spokeswoman told the news agency.

Meanwhile local Chinese media outlets have reported (again quoting unnamed sources), that some Google China employees were denied access to Google’s internal networks after the hack, and that some staff were put on leave and others transferred to different offices in Google’s Asia Pacific operations.

Google is also apparently still in the process of scanning its internal networks since the attack.

The issue highlights the problematic relationship between China and the United States and other western countries, as well as western companies, over Chinese human rights.

Back in July last year, the Chinese Government suddenly cancelled its controversial plan to require Internet filtering software on all new computers sold in the country.

Tom Jowitt
Author: Tom Jowitt
Freelance TechWeek Reporter
Tom Jowitt Tom Jowitt Tom Jowitt

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