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article imageChinese hackers steal Gmail passwords: Google

By Andrew Ardizzi     Jun 2, 2011 in Technology
Hackers in China reportedly launched clandestine attacks against users of Google's Gmail service intending to steal their passwords and monitor their emails.
The company reported in a blog post the targets of these attacks (among others) were senior government officials in the United States, Chinese activists, officials in several Asian countries, military officials and journalists, the New York Times reported.
"Through the strength of our cloud-based security and abuse detection systems, we recently uncovered a campaign to collect user passwords, likely through phishing," said Eric Grosse, engineering director of Google's security team, via the company's blog post. "The goal of this effort seems to have been to monitor the contents of these users’ emails, with the perpetrators apparently using stolen passwords to change peoples’ forwarding and delegation settings."
The Chinese government rejected claims of their involvement Thursday, although this is the second time Google has pointed to China as a source of internet intrusion.
The Times reports that in 2010 Google said it traced sophisticated invasions of its computer systems to a Chinese source, an accusation which chilled the relationship between Google and China and led to the company's decision not to comply with Chinese censorship demands.
The latest attacks are not as sophisticated comparably, relying more on phishing scam tactics to trick users into giving out their passwords, the Times reported.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry also declared it consistently opposes any criminal activities that are damaging to the internet and cracks down on hacking activities according to the law, the Times reported.
“Hacking is an international issue, and China is also a victim of hacking,” A Foreign Ministry spokesman said in a statement, the Times reported. “The claim that China supports hacking is completely created out of nothing, and is out of ulterior motives.”
Rafal Rohozinski, a network security specialist at the SecDev Group in Ottawa, told the Times it's impossible to lay blame on the Chinese government for the intrusion with any certainty. Because the internet is borderless by nature, it's easy for intruders to mask their identities by connecting through a series of proxy servers.
“The fact that someone is harvesting Gmail credentials is not surprising,” Rohozinski told the Times. reports Google has contacted all victims of the hacking and their accounts have been secured.
"It’s important to stress that our internal systems have not been affected — these account hijackings were not the result of a security problem with Gmail itself," Google said in the CBC report. "But we believe that being open about these security issues helps users better protect their information online."
More about Hackers, Google, China, New York Times, CBC
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