Current Issue
This Month's Print Issue

Follow Fast Company

We’ll come to you.

The Connection Between Google's Chinese Cyber Attackers and the U.S. Govt.

google china

Here's one for the conspiracy theorists among you (you know who you are...and so do the guys in the van out front): That Chinese cyberattack late in 2009, targeting Google and other big names, was enabled by U.S. warrantless search legislation.

This is a classic case of wrong-headed government thinking, designed to supposedly boost public safety, resulting in genuine disaster: The crack through which Chinese cyberattacks broke into Google last year, causing no end of ongoing trouble, was actually put into the security system on purpose to comply with legislation.

Think about that for a moment. The U.S. government, hell-bent at trampling over citizen's rights in order to protect those self-same rights, required Google to install back doors in its security system so that it could, at will, snoop on the online goings-on of suspect Gmail users. And then clever Chinese hackers, hell-bent on discovering intelligence on Gmail users who are suspected to be anti-establishment, used that same back door system to neatly dodge past the complex, expensive security systems Google has in place to protect its own data, and the petabytes of deeply personal information it stores about its billions of users.

Oh the irony. It's made worse by the fact that the ongoing saga about Google and China hasn't concluded yet—the search engine giant is still in talks with China's government, even while Chinese scientists lament Google's potential departure, and the affair may have actually damaged human rights hopes inside China. Security researchers are still trying to pin-point the source of the hacks, and believe they may have found some key players and institutions that may be responsible, some with government links. The Chinese government is responding by saying this is preposterous.

And tech-savvy people around the U.S. are left to wonder how many other government-required back doors exist in the Net, ready for nefarious types from organized criminals to foreign spies to exploit, in a similar way Google was attacked.

Isn't it time to remind everyone of the following fabulous scrap of Latin: Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

[Via CNN]