Chinese programmer fingered in Google attacks
A Chinese programmer with ties to the government has been fingered as the author of the program used to carry out the high-profile cyber attacks against Google and other companies earlier this year. According to researchers for the US government speaking anonymously to the Financial Times, a Chinese security consultant had posted code online ahead of the attack, saying that the project was one that he was "working on" and that Chinese government had "special access."
The programmer in question was just a freelancer and was not responsible for carrying out the attacks, claim the researchers who apparently have spoken with the programmer. Apparently, the programmer would prefer his work not be used in such "offensive efforts" as carrying out attacks against major companies, but that he "has to toe the line now and again" if he wants to do the kind of research he's good at doing.
"He would rather not have uniformed guys looking over his shoulder, but there is no way anyone of his skill level can get away from that kind of thing. The state has privileged access to these researchers’ work," the researchers told FT.
The discovery comes just days after another team of US researchers traced the origins of the attack back to Shanghai Jiaotong University (SJTU) and Lanxiang Vocational School in China, according to the New York Times. The universities in question, however, have denied involvement.
"We were shocked and indignant to hear these baseless allegations which may harm the university's reputation," one SJTU spokesperson told the state-run Xinhua news agency. (Xinhua also ran another story about how incredibly "bored" Lanxiang Vocational School is with these accusations, with officials claiming that they are politically oriented and unfounded.)
As Cyber Defense Agency founder Sami Saydjari told the Times, however, it won't be possible for US researchers to truly look into those details without the help of the mostly-uncooperative Chinese government. "We cannot trace it beyond borders. We need the cooperation of the Chinese," he said.