A spokesperson for China’s Foreign Ministry, Hong Lei, has strongly denied that the Chinese government had any role in the latest round of cyberattacks against Google services in China. Speaking with reporters, Hong indicated hacking and security breaches are a global problem and China was a key player in worldwide efforts to combat backers and online criminals. “Allegations that the Chinese government supports hacking activities are completely unfounded and made with ulterior motives,” Hong said, according to the Associated Press.
Hong did not offer any information as to whether China intended to investigate the latest incident.
Yesterday Google claimed attackers based in China have been responsible for phishing attacks that targeted U.S. government officials, military personnel, journalists, and Chinese human rights activists. The incident is the second time Google has claimed to have been subjected to cyberattacks from China: the first incident was in January 2010 and became a major diplomatic issue between the United States and China. The attack also targeted Chinese human rights activists, and eventually caused Google to relocate many of its operations to Hong Kong. Documents published by Wikileaks claimed a member of China’s politburo ordered the attacks.
Although Google has not accused the Chinese government or any individuals of orchestrating the attack, Google claims to have traced some of the IP addresses used in the phishing attack to Jinan, China, the location of a military vocational school that was also alleged to have been involved in January 2010.
The most recent attack on Google’s systems appears to have been a more-or-less conventional phishing attack that attempts to trick users into revealing their login credentials. The 2010 attack against Google and other companies was more sophisticated and involved exploiting a previously unknown zero-day bug in Internet Explorer.
China’s official news Agency Xinhua has characterized Google’s accusations as “groundless”, and says Google’s repeated accusations against the Chinese government erode trust both internationally and on the Internet. Xinhua also pokes fun at accusations IP addresses used in the attacks were traced to Lanxiang Vocational School, saying the school is primarily known for training chefs, not hackers.