John Paczkowski

Recent Posts by John Paczkowski

Chinese Schools Tied to Attacks on Google? Where’d You Read That, Mad Magazine? [UPDATED]

UPDATE: The Financial Times reports that U.S. investigators believe an unnamed Chinese freelance security consultant is the author of at least a portion of code used in the alleged attacks on Google.


Claims that two schools in China were the source of cyberattacks against Google (GOOG) and other U.S. companies have become the butt of a state-run media joke in the country. First came vehement denials from Shanghai Jiaotong University and Lanxiang Vocational School, which dismissed the stories as unfounded. “We were shocked and indignant to hear these baseless allegations which may harm the university’s reputation,” an SJTU representative told Xinhua News, the official press agency of the People’s Republic of China. He denied any ties between the school and China’s military, as did a rep for Lanxiang.

A relatively diplomatic condemnation of the claims at issue here, but it quickly devolved into outright disparagement and mockery. A subsequent news story, also published by Xinhua, bears the title “Chinese netizens make fun of Google hacking report.”

An excerpt:

A report claiming cyber attacks on Google and other firms originated from two Chinese educational institutions is being jeered at by Chinese netizens.

“The report is sheer nonsense. Is it April Fools’ Day?” netizen sdh13814021912 commented at the www.tianya.cn forum.

“The news is doomed to be a joke.” netizen Jinse Xueguang said.

“A vocational school being used as camouflage for military-sponsored hacker training camp. Am I reading a science fiction?” said another netizen azydn.

Is it April Fools’ Day? Am I reading a science fiction? Clearly Sino-American relations around this matter have sunk to a new low. Still, it’s no surprise that China’s digerati–or the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology officials impersonating them for state-run media–have reacted this way.

Confirming the schools’ involvement in the attacks or their alleged links to the Chinese military is impossible without Beijing’s cooperation. And Beijing is clearly not going to cooperate. Why would it? It has already denied culpability. And ensuring that it remains blameless is as simple as refusing to disclose traffic data from the schools’ data networks.


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The problem with the Billionaire Savior phase of the newspaper collapse has always been that billionaires don’t tend to like the kind of authority-questioning journalism that upsets the status quo.

— Ryan Chittum, writing in the Columbia Journalism Review about the promise of Pierre Omidyar’s new media venture with Glenn Greenwald