The cyber attack on Google and other U.S. companies was part of a suspected Chinese government operation launched last year that used human intelligence techniques and high-technology to steal corporate secrets, U.S. government and private-sector cybersecurity specialists told The Washington Times.
More worrying is the likelihood that the cyber attacks that led Google this week to end its cooperation with Beijing-controlled censorship and move its search engine service to Hong Kong included planting undetectable software on American company networks that could allow further clandestine access or even total control of computers in the future.
An Obama administration official said the U.S. government was able, with some confidence, to link the attack, first discovered last summer, to Chinese government organs. However, the official declined to provide details to avoid making future Chinese cyber-attack identification more difficult.
"The attack was very targeted. It targeted engineers and quality assurance developers, people with very high levels of access into the organization," said George Kurtz, chief technology officer for computer security firm McAfee who investigated the attack for several of the affected companies.
"The infections were actually very few," he said. "It wasn't like a mass infection across a large organization. It was very targeted."