Google hack trail winds closer to Chinese government

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Google hack trail winds closer to Chinese government

Freelance security consultant believed to have written code.

US security investigators claim to have identified the author of the malware used in last year's attacks on Google and a number of other US companies, making it harder for the Chinese government to distance itself from the hacks, according to the Financial Times.

Hackers were said to have compromised Gmail accounts belonging to human rights campaigners, as well as around 30 other web firms' customer accounts.

Google took a tough stance against the incident and threatened to pull out of China altogether if its search product had to continue complying with the government's political censorship demands.

Serious questions were raised about the likelihood of the attacks being in some way sanctioned by the Chinese government.

Now the new FT report says that the US has indeed discovered a link between the state and the hacking.

It said that a freelance security consultant wrote the hacking code and posted it to a forum, describing it as something he was "working on".

Although the consultant is said to have no ties to the government or the attack, Chinese officials are believed to have picked up the code.

Remarks made by Google co-founder Sergey Brin at a recent TED conference in California, suggest that it makes no difference to Google whether the Chinese government was responsible for the attack or not.

"I don't actually think the question of whether this is the Chinese government is that important," Brin is reported to have said.

"I think that the Chinese government has tens of millions of people in it. If you look at the army, the associated army and whatnot, that's larger than most countries' by far. So even if there were a Chinese government agent behind it, you know, it might represent a fragment of policy as it were."

The news follows reports last week that the hacking attacks were traceable to two schools in China.

Shanghai Jiapong University and the Lanxiant Vocational School, which is apparently tied to the Chinese military, were thought to have owned computers used in the attacks, according to reports in The New York Times.

The Chinese state-controlled Xinhua news agency has cast doubt on the report, citing spokespersons from both schools as denying any involvement.

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