News / USA

US Investigating 'Serious' Hacker Attack on Google Accounts

A woman walks past the logo of Google in front of its headquarters in Beijing January 12, 2011
A woman walks past the logo of Google in front of its headquarters in Beijing January 12, 2011

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says federal authorities are investigating Internet giant Google's accusation that computer hackers, most likely in China, broke into the e-mail accounts of hundreds of users including Chinese political activists, journalists and those of government officials both in the United States and from several Asian countries.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says the United States is taking the allegations very seriously and that the Federal Bureau of Investigation is working together with Google to investigate the attacks.

"We are obviously very concerned about Google's announcement regarding a campaign that the company believes originated in China to collect the passwords of Google e-mail account holders," said Secretary Clinton.

Clinton made her remarks Thursday during an appearance with the foreign minister of the Czech Republic in Washington. Although Google says the campaign appears to have targeted senior U.S. government officials, the White House says it does not have any immediate reason to believe that government accounts were attacked. Google did not say which U.S. officials were affected, or how long the users' accounts were exposed.

Cyber security is becoming a diplomatic priority for the United States and the State Department recently appointed a cyber security coordinator to focus on tackling information theft and reducing the risk of conflicts.

Clinton says the United States believes cyber issues are going to be a continuing problem.

"We know this is going to be a continuing problem and therefore we want to be as prepared as possible to deal with these matters when they do come to our attention," said Clinton

China has lashed out at Google, saying it is "unacceptable" for the company to blame China for the attack. In its statement, however, Google did not say the Chinese government was behind the attacks or what the possible motives of those behind the campaign might have been.

The company did say the goal of the attack seemed to have been to monitor the contents of the users’ e-mails, with the perpetrators apparently using stolen passwords to change peoples’ forwarding e-mail settings. Google says hackers used malware and phishing scams to dupe users into sharing their passwords and hacked into other websites to obtain Gmail users account information.

Dean Cheng, an Asia security analyst at the Heritage Foundation in Washington, says that just because the attack originated in China does not mean that it was carried with the knowledge and approval of the Chinese government.

"China becomes more of a suspect because of who is being hacked and the kinds of things that are being hacked," said Cheng.

Google is not the only company to recently have been the target of a high-profile attack. U.S. defense company Lockheed Martin Corporation also recently reported an attempt to take information from its company computers.

Last month, the company said it experienced what it called a  "significant and tenacious attack" on its networks. After taking aggressive actions to protect its systems no data was compromised. It is unclear who or what country might have been behind the attack.

China says that it too is frequently the victim of hacking attacks and says the claims of those who say it is supporting such attacks are completely unfounded.

Heritage's Dean Cheng says it is true that many countries, including China, are facing attacks.

"The difference is I think, that China - whether it's this Blue Army of military cyber hackers that they've established and now publicly acknowledged or cyber intrusions that have been traced to Shanghai Jiaotong University - seems to have more of a state role," he said.

Last year, Google relocated its search engine to Hong Kong, following a dispute with the Chinese government over censorship and following a serious hacking attack. It says this year's attack originated in the same region as last year's attack.

The company says it traced the hackers to Jinan, the capital of China's eastern Shandong province, where the People's Liberation Army has a so-called technical reconnaissance bureau and a technical college.

You May Like

Video Americans, Tourists, Reflect on Meaning of Thanksgiving

VOA garnered opinions from several people soon after November 13 Paris attacks, which colored many of their thoughts

Video Thais Send Security Concerns Down the River

In northern Thailand, the annual tradition of constructing floating baskets to carry away the year’s bad spirits highlights the Loy Krathong festival

Video Tree Houses - A Branch of American Dream

Workshops aimed at teaching people how to build tree houses have become widely popular in America in recent years

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continuesi
Ayesha Tanzeem
November 25, 2015 10:46 PM
One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continues

One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs