Beijing has adamantly denied it was involved in accessing hundreds of Gmail accounts belonging to senior U.S. officials, journalists, military personnel and political activists.
Indeed, Chinese Foreign Affairs Ministry official Hong Lei termed Google’s allegations little more than a “fabrication out of thin air.”
“Any blame against China in this [latest incident] is groundless and with an ulterior motive,” Lei told the WaPost.
“The Chinese government is firmly opposed to any cyber criminal activity, including hacking… [And] is ready to cooperate with the international community to combat against it.”
As TG Daily previously reported, Google security rep Eric Grosse said he believed the massive phishing operation was executed to monitor the contents of emails – as the perpetrators apparently exploited stolen passwords to alter forwarding and delegation settings.
However, Grosse emphasized Google’s internal systems were “unaffected,” as the account hijackings were not the result of a security problem with Gmail itself.
Nevertheless, the White House’s National Security Council confirms it is looking into the hack and working with the FBI to investigate, as U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton expressed her concern over the incident.
“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 email account holders,” said Clinton.
“Google informed the State Department of this situation yesterday in advance of its public announcement. These allegations are very serious. We take them seriously, we’re looking into them.”
Similarly, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has contacted Google and other federal agencies to offer “analysis” of any malicious activity.
But as Stewart A. Baker, former DHS assistant secretary for policy points out, Homeland Security lacks the authority to mandate and enforce security standards.
“The government has strikingly few tools to induce industry to improve security… [Yes], there’s been some effort to deal with those issues, but only modestly effective…”