Wikileaks, China and Google: What the hack tells us


ANALYSIS The Chinese Politburo was behind the Google hack, according to a Wikileaks document released as part of the site's wide-ranging leaks of US Embassy cable communications.

A document, picked up by the New York Times, has claimed to cover communications from a Chinese contact telling the American Embassy in Beijing that the Politburo had ordered a hack attack on Google.

Google had previously claimed sources from within China were responsible for hacks on the search giant and other US companies.

So what have we learned, if anything, from this?

First off, has Wikileaks actually released anything that surprising? Given there were already suspicions over China's involvement it may not come as a surprise to many there is now a little more evidence to argue the nation's involvement in hacking Google.

What is more concerning is the reported wider-ranging plans and an operation by the Chinese Government to breach systems including those of Western allies and US businesses. This becomes even more alarming when the communications leak indicates the hacking work had been going on since 2002.

So it seems to have taken a while for people to take cyber warfare seriously. Although this year things have sparked into life with various public figures warning about the threat, does this leak not hint the security community was a little late in spreading the word about wars over the web?

Get a grip on security

Regardless of tardiness in that respect, the China Google case tells us governments need to get a hold of security as soon as possible.

"If the news that Chinese authorities were responsible for the Google hacks is true it highlights the growing importance that the Government must take cyber security more seriously," Ash Patel, country manager for UK and Ireland at Stonesoft, told IT PRO.

"Most of a country's critical systems are controlled by computers and as cyber criminals become better resourced it is easier for them to cripple a country by taking control of these, whether it be politically motivated or not."

Whilst the UK Government may have invested what appeared to be a significant chunk of money into fighting cyber crime with an additional 650 million, this "really isn't enough," according to Patel.

Indeed, it pales in comparison to the 20 billion that was discussed to renew the UK's Trident Nuclear deterrent programme, Patel added.

Tom Brewster

Tom Brewster is currently an associate editor at Forbes and an award-winning journalist who covers cyber security, surveillance, and privacy. Starting his career at ITPro as a staff writer and working up to a senior staff writer role, Tom has been covering the tech industry for more than ten years and is considered one of the leading journalists in his specialism.

He is a proud alum of the University of Sheffield where he secured an undergraduate degree in English Literature before undertaking a certification from General Assembly in web development.