Analysis: The meaning of China’s cyber-attack on Google



Google’s recent decision to close down its venture business in China, after its operations there repeatedly came under cyber-attack, has received plenty of media attention. But most non-experts find it difficult to understand why these cyber-attacks were important enough to cause Google to abandon what is admittedly one of the world’s most lucrative online user markets. An excellent analysis in The New York Times explains the significance and meaning of the cyber-attacks. It turns out that, traditionally, cyber-rogues have been interested in detecting or building back doors (known as Trojan Horses) in commercial software, such as Microsoft’s Internet Explorer or Word, in order to replicate them, and make money selling pirate copies. But the types of attacks that caused Google’s flight from China were different. The instigators of these attacks, which were very sophisticated, seemed to want to gain access to widely used Google applications so that they could spy on their users. The Times article explains that “a foreign intelligence agency might find it extremely useful to know who was asking particular questions of Google’s search engine”. This explains the choice of targets in the attacks, which were not limited to Google, but also included Adobe Systems software, primarily Acrobat. This is because of Acrobat’s near-universal presence in over 95 percent of computer machines around the world, which makes it an ideal platform to spy on global computer and Internet usage. The article also notes that Adobe Software is expected to become the world’s top cyber-attack target in 2010, replacing Microsoft.

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Expert news and commentary on intelligence, espionage, spies and spying, by Dr. Joseph Fitsanakis and Ian Allen.

One Response to Analysis: The meaning of China’s cyber-attack on Google

  1. Anonymous says:

    lost u

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