Leaked evidence hints that Chinese authorities hacked Google

The international furore surrounding the publishing of secret diplomatic communications by whistleblowing site Wikileaks, has revealed that Google is thought to have been hacked by the Chinese government earlier in the year, resulting in the ensuing face-off between the world’s largest country and the search giant.

Media outlets from around the world, including the Guardian in the UK and the New York Times in the US, were provided with a quarter of a million messages sent between American diplomats and among the thousands of revelations which have been subsequently made public, the direct hacking of Google by a government is one of the most significant for the IT security sector.

According to reports, it was the Politburo within China that ordered the attacks on Google. Information relating to the hacks was passed to a US ambassador at the start of the year by an anonymous contact from within China.

The Chinese government allegedly orchestrated the attacks with the help of various groups, including hackers who had been put onto the payroll of the ruling party in order to do the most damage to perceived threats.

The leaked documents show that China has been actively hacking into systems operated by other nations, as well as those of private companies, for eight years.

Google went public with news of the hack back in January, although the hack itself took place almost a year ago in December 2009. This resulted in a stand-off during which the firm threatened to withdraw from China altogether, superficially over complaints relating to its unwillingness to filter search results in line with the wishes of authorities.

Upon the publication of the diplomatic messages on Wikileaks the site reported that it was being hit by a massive distributed denial of service attack (DDoS), although observers have pointed out that the significant international interest in this information might have had the same impact upon its servers as a deliberate assault.

The leakage of this vast amount of sensitive data has been condemned by many international governments and the US was already working on damage control before the publication took place.

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