Yesterday, Google accused – (or “announced that”, depending on which side of the Pacific you’re on) – Chinese hackers targeted the Gmail accounts of some folks who might not exactly be friends of the Chinese government. From Minyanville’s Justin Rohrlich:
It was announced yesterday that hundreds of gmail passwords were stolen and used to access the private email accounts of, according to the official Google blog, “senior U.S. government officials, Chinese political activists, officials in several Asian countries (predominantly South Korea), military personnel and journalists.”
Google reports that it “detected and has disrupted this campaign to take users’ passwords and monitor their emails. We have notified victims and secured their accounts. In addition, we have notified relevant government authorities.”
When I heard this story (on NPR, no less) while driving into the office this morning, I couldn’t wait to see how this story was reported on the other side of the Pacific – I figured it’d be less themed around “those crazy Chinese” and more focused around “those crazy Googlers.”
Thumbing over to my favorite almost-Chinese newspaper, Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post, we see more than a little bit of hostility towards Google’s accusations:
Ministry denies China behind latest cyberattack
The Foreign Ministry “cannot accept” accusations that hackers probably based in China tried to break into hundreds of Google mail accounts, it said yesterday.
“Blaming these misdeeds on China is unacceptable,” ministry spokesman Hong Lei told a regular news briefing. “Hacking is an international problem and China is also a victim. The claims of so-called support for hacking are completely unfounded and have ulterior motives,” he said.
The revelation comes more than a year after Google disclosed a cyberattack on its systems that it said it traced to China, and could further strain an already tense relationship between the web giant and Beijing. Google eventually all but pulled out of the world’s largest internet market by users.
Since Google began butting heads with Beijing, GOOG has been treading water:
As its core US and UK markets become saturated in Adwords, GOOG moves sideways…
Nobody has benefited more from Google’s China exodus than ministry-favorite Baidu:
In Taiwan last month, I asked some folks what they thought of Baidu. “Oh man – Baidu is crazy,” one friend-of-a-friend replied, slowly shaking his head. According to him, Baidu acts almost like an extension of the Chinese government. They’ll rip copyrighted content…they play by their own rules…etc.
Contrast that with Google – a company filled with smart engineers who sometimes fail to see the limits of their own intelligence. Some of the folks I know who do or have worked at Google tend to think they’re a little more worldly than they are…Google sends them over to London, and they act like they’ve seen the entire world. I’m not entirely surprised that Mountain View and London-centric Google has had trouble making money in other markets.
I have not done business with China, or the Chinese government, so perhaps it’s not fair for me to judge. But if I were a GOOG shareholder, I’d be quite a bit bothered at Google’s lack of presence in the largest internet user market in the world. And I’d want to see Sergei and Larry heading over to mainland China for some quality bonding time with Chinese officials…rather than jamming around the suburban streets of Mountain View in their scooters and electric cars.