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Google Government Your Rights Online Attack Part of a Broad Spying Effort 515

CWmike writes "Google's decision Tuesday to risk walking away from China (Um, the world's largest Internet market) may have come as a shock, but security experts see it as the most public admission of a top IT problem for US companies: ongoing corporate espionage originating from China. It's a problem that the US lawmakers have complained about loudly. In the corporate world, online attacks that appear to come from China have been an ongoing problem for years, but big companies haven't said much about this, eager to remain in the good graces of the world's powerhouse economy. Google, by implying that Beijing had sponsored the attack, has placed itself in the center of an international controversy, exposing what appears to be a state-sponsored corporate espionage campaign that compromised more than 30 technology, financial and media companies, most of them global Fortune 500 enterprises. The US government is taking the attack seriously. Late Tuesday, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton released a statement asking the Chinese government to explain itself, saying that Google's allegations 'raise very serious concerns and questions.' She continued: 'The ability to operate with confidence in cyberspace is critical in a modern society and economy.'"
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  • by Monkeedude1212 ( 1560403 ) on Wednesday January 13, 2010 @02:25PM (#30753714) Journal

    I think everyone has realized that by now.

  • Can't believe people still fall for the naive "Don't be evil" motto these days.

    It may shock you, but corporations are made of people, and sometimes, the people that make them up are moved to do ethical things. That Google's actions are newsworthy is a reflection on us, not just an abstraction of the corporation.

  • by ElectricTurtle ( 1171201 ) on Wednesday January 13, 2010 @03:00PM (#30754236)
    Uh, being married to the guy counts as 'involved' to most people. Just because she wasn't in the room does not negate that.
  • by kilodelta ( 843627 ) on Wednesday January 13, 2010 @03:11PM (#30754388) Homepage
    Back in 2001 I was working for state government. Our web site was defaced and I started tracing the sources through our border routers, etc. It resolved back to China.

    So I did what any sane administrator in government would do, I just blotted out the known IP ranges from China.
  • by sootman ( 158191 ) on Wednesday January 13, 2010 @03:14PM (#30754444) Homepage Journal

    ... they can do whatever the hell they want.

    "Google's decision Tuesday to risk walking away from China (Um, the world's largest Internet market)..."

    They're not REQUIRED to do business with anyone. Some customers are just too much of a pain in the ass to be worth it. Imagine you own a store and there's an item you buy for $5 and sell for $10. If someone comes in and offers you $9 for it, would you sell? Sure, why not, it's still pretty good. How about $8? $7? $6? $5.50? $5.25? $5.05? $5.01? At what point do you tell them "Piss off, you're wasting my time"? I personally would much rather deal with a thousand nice well-off customers than a million pain-in-the-ass cheapskates.* Seems to be working pretty well for Apple too. :-)

    So same thing here. If Google doesn't feel like dealing with China's BS, they don't have to. Let someone else try to make a buck off that headache.

    * disclaimer: before anyone gets their panties in a knot, I'm not saying rich people are nice and poor people aren't. I'm talking about CHEAPNESS here--someone who has nothing better to do with their time than argue over every nickel versus someone who's content to pay a fair price. Cheapness** is why the US is so beholden to China right now. See also Schmatta. []

    ** and a few other things

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 13, 2010 @03:24PM (#30754630)

    It sounds like you are implying that other presidents have done better? For the Record George W. took 6 days to respond to the shoe bomber...

  • by crf00 ( 1048098 ) on Wednesday January 13, 2010 @03:43PM (#30754916) Homepage
    Whether you think Google's initial decision to comply with censorship in China is right or not, I think their decision now makes the initial compliance worthwhile. With it Google now has enough influence to the Chinese that the news is big enough to spread to everyone in China. (Remember it doesn't matter how much we know, more important is how much the Chinese citizen get from this news) Google also has enough market share that its retreat can greatly disrupt existing market.

    Although there are certainly still a lot of ignorant PRC Chinese that pissed me off, I am very glad to see a lot of PRC Chinese that appreciate Google and disagree with the censorship in China. Many of them know about sensitive incidents like tiananmen. I believe thanks to the "negative" effect of the great censorship effort by the government, some younger Chinese become more aware of such incidents by actively comparing search results of these incidents whenever censorship related news are reported.

    I'm quite surprise to not see any Slashdot comment mentioning this. Within moments the news were reported, large amount of visitors are attracted to Google China's headquarter to present "illegal" flowers to Google. The new term "fei1 fa3 xian4 hua1" (Slashdot can't accept my chinese character) is used and no surprising, this term has been banned by Baidu et al. There isn't much you can see from the English Google News [], but with the chinese keyword [], you can get much more informative results.

    (disclaimer: I'm a Chinese but not from PRC)
  • by Vintermann ( 400722 ) on Wednesday January 13, 2010 @03:55PM (#30755112) Homepage

    They have gone on record saying that they will either pull out, or deliver uncensored searches. That's a bit more than a vague threat.

  • by ElectricTurtle ( 1171201 ) on Wednesday January 13, 2010 @03:58PM (#30755154)
    You're conflating the terms 'involved' and 'participated' or 'committed'. Involvement is much broader and connotes any attachment to the event or its effects. One can say A involved B without saying that B did anything.
  • by Artifakt ( 700173 ) on Wednesday January 13, 2010 @04:21PM (#30755496)

    Basically, any nation that starts a nuclear war against either the USA or Russia, without being able to win a decisive victory, loses everything. If they manage to destroy say, 30, 40, or even 50% of either superpower's population and assets, they just provide the justification for an absolutely overwhelming retaliatory strike.

          Remember US history for the 1940's. The US declares war on Japan, with an immediate demand for unconditional surrender, and publicly announces that this is the only thing they will accept. The War declaration in Congress makes this a binding matter on the executive branch, that the US will not accept a conditional surrender except by direct order of the President.
        The following are a few of the publicly expressed remarks of the time, generally approved by the majority of Americans listening:

          "By the time we're through with them, the Japanese language will be spoken only in hell."

          "I hate Japs! I'm telling you men, that if I met a pregnant Japanese woman, I'd kick her in the belly!"

                                              Both by Fleet Admiral William "Bull" Halsey

    You'll note that Halsey is quite clearly talking Genocide as an acceptable response. He got promoted after that.

            During the 70's the Soviet Union conducted top level strategic simulations exercises (sit around a table style war games scenarios) with its general staff. One of the noted outcomes of those was that, whenever scenario casualties exceeded the roughly 20 million from WW2, someone on the staff spotted and mentioned that fact, and commanding generals and admirals almost invariably swiftly urged the politbureau to immediately allow retrofitting of cobalt jackets on nuclear devices and permission to deploy them specifically against civilian population centers, or the release of weaponized smallpox or anthrax to the front lines for field artillary use, or other such acts. The Soviet Union's analysis was that, in a real war, once casualties reached about 20 million, there was a better than 50-50 chance command would stage a coup if civilian authorities didn't approve all the most extreme measures in the Soviet arsenal, and an even higher likelihood they would give orders to totally exterminate the enemy population bases with them if they got the means to do so. Whether they would have been so determined to take it into runaway mode in a real war is, of course, speculative, but there's certainly at least some chance.


  • Re:Statescraft (Score:2, Informative)

    by t0p ( 1154575 ) on Wednesday January 13, 2010 @04:25PM (#30755560) Homepage
    Never mind "would" - could the UN condemn China? As a permanent member of the Security Council China has veto powers. So they'll just veto any move to censure them.
  • by GeffDE ( 712146 ) on Wednesday January 13, 2010 @05:02PM (#30756162)
    Tomorrow Never Dies...
  • by copponex ( 13876 ) on Wednesday January 13, 2010 @05:04PM (#30756180) Homepage

    The morality of the market Is easily reflected in Google's stock price. I think this is why Google is still privately controlled instead of at the whim of the shareholders, or as I like to call them, the greedy ancient Court of Douchebags.

    Google Inc. (GOOG, $580.93, -$9.55, -1.62%) said it may leave China after an investigation found the company had been hit with major cyber attacks it believes originated from the country--a move that would amount to one of the highest-profile rebukes yet of China by a major U.S. firm. The talk tossed China's Internet economy into turmoil, and sent Chinese search company Baidu ($431.67, +$45.18, +11.69%) soaring. Deutsche Bank upgraded the company to buy from hold saying Google threat is likely a plus for Baidu no matter how it shakes out. Other Chinese Internet firms also rose, including Inc. (SOHU, $58.98, +$0.85, +1.46%) and Sina Corp. (SINA, $44.87, +$0.30, +0.67%). []

  • by JohnFen ( 1641097 ) on Wednesday January 13, 2010 @06:10PM (#30757060)

    For all intensive purposes, "whom" is no longer a word. That begs the question, "who cares?"

    It should be "For all intents and purposes."

    Sorry, that's a pet peeve of mine. I usually ignore it, but couldn't this time because it was tied to a grammar joke.

  • Re:Statescraft (Score:3, Informative)

    by Philip_the_physicist ( 1536015 ) on Wednesday January 13, 2010 @06:24PM (#30757236)

    If it was a security council resolution, instead of a general assembly resolution, then the PRC would not be able to veto it, because one of the rules is that a country cannot vote on a resolution against it.

  • by Xest ( 935314 ) on Wednesday January 13, 2010 @06:34PM (#30757366)

    I don't think you realise how few nukes China has and also overestimate the size of a nuclear explosion as many people often do.

    The only two countries in the world that can unilaterally push the no one wins scenario are Russia and the USA. Other nuclear capable nations simply do not have enough weapons of high enough yield setup to be deployed via the harder to take down ICBMs to fulfil that scenario. They could do a lot of damage for sure, they could whipe out the entire Eastern seaboard of the US, the vast majority of Europe and so forth, but here's the key, if they did either of those you'd still have either Europe left, or the entire rest of the US and it's allies, or a combination of that would strike back. The US would still have facility to whipe out the whole of China via ICBMs in response. My point is, that in a worst case scenario China could not end the world or anything so daft, they could not even end the West, and their price for only heavily damaging it would be their own entire obliteration. China has at most 180 nuclear weapons, of these many are only deployable from shorter range launchers or aircraft, which would be easy for the US to defend against. Of the handful that are ICBMs, many aren't particularly high yield. This is why as I state, China's nuclear capacity is limited far below anything approaching complete worldwide obliteration. In contrast, again, only the US and Russia have enough ICBMs to whipe the world out a few times over.

    "Anyway, I can't actually remember China say they're going to "unilaterally take on the world". For now they seem content just to take on the world's manufacturing."

    No neither can I, but then, though that's probably because I was quite clearly talking about a hypothetical worst case scenario if things ever really did get that crazy, which I don't believe they honestly ever will.

  • by ScrewMaster ( 602015 ) * on Wednesday January 13, 2010 @08:01PM (#30758592)

    But I was just responsible for a state web site, not a federal web site. So no harm, no foul.

    And even if you were responsible for a Federal-level site ... where is it written that every site operated by a U.S. entity must be visible to people in other countries?

    Some years ago AT&T cut its trunk lines to China, because of all the spam coming out of open relays there. The State Department got involved after the Chinese government complained, and AT&T backed off. But this problem is not new, and China's government apparently has no intention of doing anything about it. Why should they? It's just a drain on our economy. Definite plus for them. Personally, I think our government should offer a bounty to U.S. crackers for verified hacks of any computer within Chinese address space.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 13, 2010 @08:23PM (#30758876)

    Just a bit of Chinese history which might change your mind a little bit:

    Despite its shear size of territory, dominating culture, enormous population and wealth, as well as large number of military personel, starting from 1127, China
      suffered the following defeats against tiny opponents with substantailly less resources:

    1127: Lost half of their country to Jurchen, a small tribe originated from the northeast corner of China.
    1279: Conquered by Mongols, a small tribe originated in the northern steppes of China. To be fair, China was not the only country conquered by the Mongols.
    1644: Conquered by Manchurians, a small tribe originated in the same area as the Jurchen conquerors of 1127.
    1839-1900: Repeatedly defeated by European countries on Chinese territory, despite their remote logistics and smaller sizes. To be fair, the Europeans had huge technological advantages.
    1895: Defeated by Japan. A tiny island country off the east coast of China. Remember Japan at 1895 was nothing compared to the 2nd largest economy of the world today. Acutally the indemnity paid by the Chinese government at the end of the war was rumored to be three times the annual revenue of Japanese government at the time.
    1941: Japan occupied most of the economically advanced areas of China. China reclaimed the land after Japan was defeated by Americans and Russians. When Japan invaded China the second time, they were already far more advanced in military technologies, obviously they put the large sum of indemnity from 1895 to some use.

    All the conquerors of China listed above were tiny in population, territory, and economic power compared to China. They were culturally inferior too when they invaded China. Nobody would bet on them before the wars started. Why did China lose badly to all of them? Of course there was no single reason that can explain all. But there was one common phenomenon in all those Chinese defeats: large number of Chinese population joined the enemy side even though the invaders were of a different race and a different culture and came to China as conquerors. A bad government will likely to collapse at a time of war no matter how strong they seem to be and how much resource/population they control during peace time.

  • by ElectricTurtle ( 1171201 ) on Wednesday January 13, 2010 @10:51PM (#30760188)
    The Opium Wars were fought in the throes of a dying dynasty run by occupying foreigners. It was hardly a cause that rank and file Hans were interested in dying for. The Sino-Japanese conflict took place immediately after the fall of the aforementioned dynasty when disunity ruled China more than any man or faction.

    However, that is not China today. China is currently very strong and almost as unified as possible (Tibet and Xinjiang have never been more than ornery tributaries, so Taiwan is the only real missing piece). Its military is exponentially stronger, better trained, and with higher moral than it possessed in the century before the communists won the civil war.

    You think farmer's revolts cause dissolution? You don't know much about 'their millenia in existence' then. A revolt brought down the Qin dynasty and as quickly raised a unified Han dynasty in its place. The transition from Yuan to Ming was similar.

    If you want to deny China's might in spite of what I've already said, be my guest.

"I shall expect a chemical cure for psychopathic behavior by 10 A.M. tomorrow, or I'll have your guts for spaghetti." -- a comic panel by Cotham