FBI Probing Chinese Hand in Gmail Attacks

 
on June 03 2011 7:36 AM

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is investigating Google's claims that Chinese hackers were behind the recent hacking of several Gmail accounts, including senior U.S. government officials, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters.

Responding to a question on whether President Obama thinks China is behind the Gmail hack, Carney said the President is aware of the attack and is being constantly updated on the situation.

The President is obviously aware of it.  He is updated on these sorts of things regularly.  Threats to information and communications infrastructure pose a serious economic and national security challenge for the United States and our partners, which is why the President has made cyber security one of his top priorities, Carney said.

As with all intrusions, we employ an all-of-government approach with the appropriate agency in the lead.  In this case, the FBI is coordinating a response.  We're obviously aware of these reports.  We're looking into these reports, Carney said adding that he has no reason to believe at this point that any official U.S. government email accounts were accessed.

Carney also said that though government officials are permitted to have personal email accounts, they are not allowed to use them in any official capacities.

Search giant Google revealed Wednesday it disrupted a hacking effort that appears to be originated from China, targeting Gmail accounts of various people, including senior U.S. government officials.

Through the strength of our cloud-based security and abuse detection systems, we recently uncovered a campaign to collect user passwords, likely through phishing. This campaign, which appears to originate from Jinan, China, affected what seem to be the personal Gmail accounts of hundreds of users including, among others, senior U.S. government officials, Chinese political activists, officials in several Asian countries (predominantly South Korea), military personnel and journalists, Eric Grosse, Engineering Director, Google Security Team wrote in a blog post.

Google said the hackers were trying to monitor the contents of these users' emails, with the perpetrators apparently using stolen passwords to change peoples' forwarding and delegation settings.

However, Google detected this and has disrupted the effort and have notified victims and secured their accounts. In addition, the company has also notified relevant government authorities.

On the other hand, China has rejected Google's allegations and told reporters that efforts to put all of the blame on China were unacceptable.

China itself had been a victim of hacking attacks and that the government pays great attention to cyber security. The so-called statement that the Chinese government supports hacking attacks is a total fabrication and has ulterior motives, Foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei told reporters.

Meanwhile, there have been serious allegations against the Chinese state machinery in the past over cyber attacks on the U.S. and allies. Experts have said in the past that, for China, cyber warfare fits into the scheme of things.

The hack attack came to light just a day after it was revealed that the U.S. government was planning to bring in legislation declaring cyber attacks as acts of war.

The US Department of Defense (DOD) announced on Tuesday that the military is ready to use force in response to cyber threats. The agency's cyberspace operations will fully commence next month but the country will not step back from using physical means to protect the country from any cyber attack that may prove to be a threat for the country.

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