Chinese students responsible for Google hack?

Posted on February 22, 2010

 

Students are well known for their pranks, but usually the average student joke extends no further than the ‘commandeering’ of alcohol or the ‘relocation’ of road signs and police cones. Chinese students however could well have gone a few stages further with their pranks, as they’re having the finger pointed at them for the hack on Google that saw email boxes for known activists being accessed.

The ‘finger’ in question belongs to US computer security experts, who believe they have traced the origin of the hack into Google’s infrastructure all the way to the Jiaotong University, in Shanghai and Shandong Province’s Lanxiang Vocational School.

Jiaotong University is well known within China for having the best computer science programmes – the sort of establishment where individuals with the ability to hack into computer systems would be ten a penny.

Neither school was aware that the US had fingered them for the hacks, but both are likely subjects based on past form – which includes Chinese military ties and previous hacks on the White House website.

Even if the hacks have been successfully traced to the education establishments, it doesn’t prove that the establishments themselves were responsible. One of the professors at Jiaotong University stated:

Students hacking into foreign websites is quite normal.

He said the attacks could have been from:

…one or two geek students who are just keen on experimenting with their hacking skills.

Whether the students were responsible or not, and whether the hack was as a result of high spirited students or a darker military plot, perhaps Google will never know.

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