China Power

Losing the Crown Jewels

The Google theft reportedly included a key password system. Are US hackers doing the same?

So how bad was the hacking theft that prompted the showdown between Google and the Chinese government? According to a report in the New York Times, it was pretty bad.

The paper reported on its website late last night that intruders stole one of Google’s crown jewels—the password system controlling access by millions of users around the globe. According to the report a source said the programme, code named Gaia after the Greek goddess of the earth, ‘was attacked in a lightning raid taking less than two days last December.’

Google has been cagey so far about the theft, though the article goes on to suggest that Google executives have said in private that many of the other companies affected by the attack haven’t even acknowledged they were victims.

If Chinese hackers are to be believed, though, it’s not just US companies being threatened by attacks from China—US hackers with an axe to grind are targeting Chinese firms.

According to reports yesterday, Alibaba, a Hong Kong-listed firm operating an online trading platform for buyers and sellers, saw its AliExpress site targeted over the weekend.

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The South China Morning Post spoke with one hacker, leader of the Honker Union of China, suggesting Chinese firms expanding overseas will be subject to an increasing number of attacks.

He was quoted as saying: ‘I would be surprised if these attacks were not launched by Americans…The government of the United States has built up the biggest cyber army in the world. Many of their cyber soldiers used to be elite hackers. China is the No1 enemy in their routine cyber warfare drills.’