China, Google Clash Over Reported New Hacking Attack

Posted June 2nd, 2011 at 5:25 am (UTC-5)
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Google is once more in conflict with China, this time over a new hacker attack affecting the e-mail accounts of hundreds of people, including senior U.S. officials, journalists, and Chinese political activists.

The Internet giant says the scheme to steal user passwords from G-Mail accounts originated in Jinan in eastern China. It gave no details of whose accounts were violated but the White House says it has no reason to believe that any U.S. government accounts were attacked.

At a foreign ministry briefing Thursday, Chinese spokesman Hong Lei said it is “unacceptable” to put the blame for the attack on China. The spokesman also referred to an earlier dispute last year which led to a lengthy delay in the renewal of Google's license to operate in the country.

Google says the hackers gained the information with a scam called “phishing.” Victims are lured into revealing passwords and other information by responding to fake messages that appear to have come from friends or other trusted sources.

Google complained of a much wider cyber attack by Chinese-based hackers last year, which led it to move its popular Chinese search engine to Hong Kong out of the reach of Chinese Internet censors.

Beijing tightly controls Internet material to shield users from what it says is harmful material such as pornography. But human rights groups accuse China of censoring pro-opposition activists.