Cyber attacks which led Google to cease censoring search results in China were ”directed” by the Chinese Politburo, according to diplomatic cables published by WikiLeaks.
According to The New York Times, among some 251,287 confidential communications between 274 embassies around the globe were cables revealing official Chinese involvement in the attacks.
A Chinese contact reportedly told the American Embassy in Beijing in January this year that the Google cyber attacks were part of a ”coordinated campaign of computer sabotage carried out by government operatives, private security experts and Internet outlaws recruited by the Chinese government.”
American government and business systems and systems of US allies were also targeted, according to the cables.
The Google attacks occurred in mid-December 2009 and were reported by the search giant to be a ”highly sophisticated and targeted attack on our corporate infrastructure originating from China that resulted in the theft of intellectual property from Google.”
At least twenty other companies were also targeted including Adobe Systems, Symantec, Yahoo, Northrop Grumman and Dow Chemical.
Google also stated that ”a primary goal of the attackers was accessing the Gmail accounts of Chinese human rights activists.”
As a result of the attacks, Google reversed its policy of complying with Chinese censorship and began redirecting search queries from mainland China to servers in Hong Kong which delivered uncensored results. The resulting dispute with the Chinese government was only resolved in July when Google backed down and agreed to resume censoring searches from google.cn.
WikiLeaks began publishing a massive cache of diplomatic cables on Sunday and will continue to release them over coming months. Just hours before the first cables were published, WikiLeaks reported via Twitter that it was ”currently under a mass distributed denial of service attack.”