Select your localized edition:

Close ×

More Ways to Connect

Discover one of our 28 local entrepreneurial communities »

Be the first to know as we launch in new countries and markets around the globe.

Interested in bringing MIT Technology Review to your local market?

MIT Technology ReviewMIT Technology Review - logo

 

Unsupported browser: Your browser does not meet modern web standards. See how it scores »

{ action.text }

Once the attackers control one computer on a network, they branch out from there, probing other computers on the same network and raiding e-mail accounts to get more ammunition for social engineering attacks. “They’re basically tricking users into exploiting themselves,” Villeneuve says, adding that perimeter defenses are useless if attackers can trick humans into handing over information or infecting themselves.

However, since many hacking groups operate using these tactics, Villeneuve says it can be devilishly hard to trace attacks back to their source. “We often don’t know [the exact details of attackers’] relationship with the Chinese government,” he says. Still, Villeneuve believes that the Chinese government would certainly stand to benefit from the activity.

Ross Anderson, a professor of security engineering at the University of Cambridge, agrees that “the sort of tricks” used against the Tibetan movement likely provide clues to the recent attacks against Google and other companies.

Shortly after Google made its announcement, Adobe posted an announcement of a “computer security incident involving a sophisticated, coordinated attack against corporate network systems managed by Adobe and other companies.” Adobe says it learned of the attack on January 2 but did not confirm that this attack was the same as the one that struck Google.

Google plans to negotiate with the Chinese government over the next few weeks to see if it is possible to run a standard version of its search engine in 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,” Drummond wrote.

No other major U.S. search engine has so far said it would change its operations in China. A Yahoo spokesperson said in a statement, “We stand aligned with Google that these kinds of attacks are deeply disturbing and strongly believe that the violation of user privacy is something that we as Internet pioneers must all oppose.” But the search engine was silent on the question of whether it would make any changes to its own policies. A Microsoft statement read, “We have no indication that any of our mail properties have been compromised.”

29 comments. Share your thoughts »

Credit: AP Images

Tagged: Business, Web, Google, security, China, hackers, espionage

Reprints and Permissions | Send feedback to the editor

From the Archives

Close

Introducing MIT Technology Review Insider.

Already a Magazine subscriber?

You're automatically an Insider. It's easy to activate or upgrade your account.

Activate Your Account

Become an Insider

It's the new way to subscribe. Get even more of the tech news, research, and discoveries you crave.

Sign Up

Learn More

Find out why MIT Technology Review Insider is for you and explore your options.

Show Me