The spate of online attacks on Google and many other US
companies and organisations has been linked to two educational institutions in
China, one with ties to the military.
Google’s Chinese operation was hacked, as were the networks
of a significant number of US businesses and agencies, in an attack dubbed ‘Aurora’.
The attack prompted threats by Google to close its operation in China rather
than submit to Chinese censorship rules. It is believed the hackers were after political
and economic information, as well as email communications from Chinese
China vehemently denied involvement, but the incident
prompted a speech by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, demanding that
China investigate the attacks and calling for greater efforts to secure Internet
freedom (see March NetGuide, page 14).
The US National Security Agency (NSA) joined a major investigation into the
source of Aurora.
Now investigators have traced the attacks back to computers
at two educational institutions in China, the Shanghai Jiaotong University and
the Lanxiang Vocational School. Jiaotong has one of China’s top computer
science programs while Lanxiang trains soldiers in computer science. Computer
analysts have speculated in the past that the vocational school is a cover for
The links are likely to be officially denied, or if strongly
pressed, Chinese officials may put the attacks down to “patriotic volunteers”
or mischievous students.