Although it does face a variety of cyber attacks on a regular basis, Google recently acknowledged the theft of intellectual property following a sophisticated attack on their infrastructure originating from China.
Investigation of the incident uncovered a more serious problem – at least twenty other large companies have been targeted as well. These are not only IT companies but doing business in a variety of sectors – finance, media, technology, etc. U.S. authorities are working with Google and the affected companies to try and understand the depth of the attacks.
It’s not a secret that the Chinese government relies heavily on censorship as a way of control. There’s evidence that these people are going the extra mile in order to retain control. Google suggests that a primary goal of the attacks was accessing the Gmail accounts of Chinese human rights activists although their apparently failed to gain access to the accounts during this attack.
David Drummond, SVP, Corporate Development and Chief Legal Officer at Google commented: “We have taken the unusual step of sharing information about these attacks with a broad audience not just because of the security and human rights implications of what we have unearthed, but also because this information goes to the heart of a much bigger global debate about freedom of speech.”
Following these events, Google is reviewing the feasibility of their business operations in China and they are no longer willing to continue censoring their search results on Google.cn.
Google is not just another small company dealing in sector populated by many. What message does their contemplation of closing offices in China send to other companies planning to do business in China? Beware!