In early June, I was in a nice rainy East Coast US city for meetings dealing with particularly thorny issues related to ways the Internet experience is being killed off for regular folks—and for institutions (NGOs) that are promoting free speech and human rights. Over a small breakfast, I sketched in my book some notes about the progression of malware over time. Basically paralleling the development I describe in my site The Social Graph of Malware, malware has gone from simple and juvenile defacement of web sites to become sophisticated and bandwidth-hogging socially-engineered schemes designed to get people to fall for a purchase they didn’t want to make, or just to click a link to enroll their computer in a network of zombies poised to conduct nasty attacks on other people. [Read more…]
In a post on the Official Google Blog a couple of hours ago, David Drummond, SVP Corporate Development and Chief Legal Officer, says that Google and other organizations have been the targets of attacks from China, and that Google may suspend operations within China.
He characterizes the attacks as “highly sophisticated” and “targeted” — though his description doesn’t really describe the sophistication — and it seems to be much like what we’re seeing in terms of attacks against the Tibetan exile community and Tibet support groups [TSGs] in general.
He specifically says the more than twenty attacks they identified, had as a primary goal:
“…accessing the Gmail accounts of Chinese human rights activists.”
He cites a number of reports, including the GhostNet report, which you should read if you’d like a little more detailed analysis of how some of this stuff takes place.
And here’s the punchline:
“We have decided we are no longer willing to continue censoring our results on Google.cn, and so over the next few weeks we will be discussing with the Chinese government the basis on which we could operate an unfiltered search engine within the law, if at all. We recognize that this may well mean having to shut down Google.cn, and potentially our offices in China.”
Whoa! He used the word censoring here! I don’t recall that Google described their actions as censorship when they first started filtering results at Google.cn…
This is a welcome step forward, assuming they follow through, and I applaud their willingness to listen to others who have been criticizing Google’s decision (to provide censored search results in China) from the beginning, as well as (now) to respond to the censorship and repression of free speech that we see spreading now.
See my related posts (below) for more on the issue of free speech and human rights in China and elsewhere in the world.
On my site The Social Graph of Malware, I try to present current information (with appropriate background) on malware and attack vectors that use social engineering as a part of their methodology.
Last week I read somewhere (I know not where) about the potential for URL-shortening sites pointing you at sites containing malware. It’s pretty simple – imagine that someone posing as your friend twitters you and there’s one of these shortened URLs inside the message … but that this shortened URL points you at a site containing an embedded virus rather than at a site that you would want to actually visit. Your actual or supposed friend might not even know the site is poisoned. How can you protect yourself against this? Read this page at The Social Graph of Malware for more details. (I promise you there are no shortened URLs in the article.)