China Attacks Google – Google Backfires

Google believes that the Chinese Government is conducting an organized cyber attack to get the accounts of Chinese Human Right Activists. So, it’s now thinking of pulling out of the Chinese market. This is a serious issue in China as Google, China has 31% share of the market. Since the origin of this hacking attempt was in China AND its not so easy to hack in to Google, it’s now reconsidering ‘to review their business operations in China’. Simply put, Google wants to pull out their company from China.

If you’ve been looking up the recent buzz that’s around, you might know what I am speaking about. For those people who don’t know what all this is about: An organized cyber attack was performed on Google on/before Jan 1st, 2010 which was intended – as google says – to procure the mail content of Chinese Human Right Activists and all such persons who are working abroad. Only two of the accounts were compromised with just the Subject of the mails disclosed (content of the mail were not given away).
But today, China announced a sharp increase in the number of Internet users.The timing of the announcement suggests Beijing is trying to persuade Google to stay and give up plans to pull out its Chinese version from the country. China is now afraid that if Google China, pulls out of its market, then “the business issue will become political or diplomatic issue” – as said by Xinhua, the Chinese official news agency. Apart from hacker attacks, Google is engaged in two other disputes in China. It has been charged by an association of Chinese writers of copyright theft as it displayed books in the local language without obtaining their permission. Google is in negotiations with the association but has refused to accept its demand to apologize. Google has also been criticized by the Chinese censors for allowing its site to be used for distribution of pornography. [Source: Times of India]

Let me quote Google on this issue:
Like many other well-known organizations, we face cyber attacks of varying degrees on a regular basis. In mid-December, we detected a highly sophisticated and targeted attack on our corporate infrastructure originating from China that resulted in the theft of intellectual property from Google. However, it soon became clear that what at first appeared to be solely a security incident--albeit a significant one--was something quite different.
First, this attack was not just on Google. As part of our investigation we have discovered that at least twenty other large companies from a wide range of businesses--including the Internet, finance, technology, media and chemical sectors--have been similarly targeted. We are currently in the process of notifying those companies, and we are also working with the relevant U.S. authorities.
Second, we have evidence to suggest that a primary goal of the attackers was accessing the Gmail accounts of Chinese human rights activists. Based on our investigation to date we believe their attack did not achieve that objective. Only two Gmail accounts appear to have been accessed, and that activity was limited to account information (such as the date the account was created) and subject line, rather than the content of emails themselves.
Third, as part of this investigation but independent of the attack on Google, we have discovered that the accounts of dozens of U.S.-, China- and Europe-based Gmail users who are advocates of human rights in China appear to have been routinely accessed by third parties. These accounts have not been accessed through any security breach at Google, but most likely via phishing scams or malware placed on the users' computers.
We have taken the unusual step of sharing information about these attacks with a broad audience not just because of the security and human rights implications of what we have unearthed, but also because this information goes to the heart of a much bigger global debate about freedom of speech. In the last two decades, China's economic reform programs and its citizens' entrepreneurial flair have lifted hundreds of millions of Chinese people out of poverty. Indeed, this great nation is at the heart of much economic progress and development in the world today.
We launched Google.Inc in January 2006 in the belief that the benefits of increased access to information for people in China and a more open Internet outweighed our discomfort in agreeing to censor some results. At the time we made clear that "we will carefully monitor conditions in China, including new laws and other restrictions on our services. If we determine that we are unable to achieve the objectives outlined we will not hesitate to reconsider our approach to China."
These attacks and the surveillance they have uncovered--combined with the attempts over the past year to further limit free speech on the web--have led us to conclude that we should review the feasibility of our business operations in China. We have decided we are no longer willing to continue censoring our results on Google.cn, and so over the next few weeks we will be discussing with the Chinese government the basis on which we could operate an unfiltered search engine within the law, if at all. We recognize that this may well mean having to shut down Google.cn, and potentially our offices in China.
The decision to review our business operations in China has been incredibly hard, and we know that it will have potentially far-reaching consequences. We want to make clear that this move was driven by our executives in the United States, without the knowledge or involvement of our employees in China who have worked incredibly hard to make Google.cn the success it is today. We are committed to working responsibly to resolve the very difficult issues raised. [Source: Google Blog]
This sure puts things in perspective for China. If Google does pull its branch out of China, then it might become a minor “Satyam” styled situation there. The Chinese market will begin to have its ups and downs, thanks to Google. But looking at the Chinese reply to the issue, I don’t think they’ll let Google go that easily.
World Peace…. I don’t know why I said that, but I sure like the sound of it… :)

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