EditorsAbout the SiteComes vs. MicrosoftUsing This Web SiteSite ArchivesCredibility IndexOOXMLOpenDocumentPatentsNovellNews DigestSite NewsRSS

01.14.10

Chinese Google ‘Attack’ Involves Microsoft Windows Flaws

Posted in GNU/Linux, Google, Microsoft, Security, Windows at 8:21 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

China satellite image

Summary: It is not Google’s fault but Microsoft’s fault that China managed to compromise accounts not just of Google but of over 20 other companies, by Microsoft’s own admission

YESTERDAY we mentioned Google’s reaction to attacks from China, which are now confirmed to be targeting different companies. It was not something against Google as Google is one among several victims and some people doubt there will be an exit from the largest Internet market.

How would leaving the Chinese market actually prevent Chinese crackers from connecting to Google servers? It would not.

Hacking Risks Persist Even If Companies Withdraw From China

Google and other enterprises still face a bleak computer security landscape that makes their companies vulnerable to hackers, whether they do business in China or not, analysts say.

Perhaps the most interesting revelation, which was found buried deep inside reports, is the role of Windows in these attacks on Google. Check this one out for example: (the emphasis in red is ours)

More sources are now claiming the Chinese government is behind the recent cyberattacks against Google and 33 other Silicon Valley companies, reports security firm Verisign iDefense. The attacks, revealed yesterday via a posting on Google’s official blog, were hacking attempts on the technology infrastructure of Google and other major corporations in sectors that included finance, technology, media and chemical, said Dave Girouard, president of Google Enterprise.

[...]

While July’s attacks were detected early and were largely uneventful, December’s attacks did find some success. In addition, these same sources claim that the files in both cases share similar characteristics. For example, both attacks used a backdoor Trojan in the form of a Windows DLL, and both share two similar hosts for the command-and-control (C&C) communication. In layman’s terms, if the cyberattack was a ground assault during a war, the C&C would be the general barking out the orders. Also in both incidents, the IP addresses used for C&C are in the same subnet and only six addresses apart from each other. That means both attacks are likely to have been instigated by the same entity and may imply that the recent victims’ technology infrastructure has been compromised since July.

When one in two Windows PCs is said to be a zombie PC, the above should not be surprising. This was a targeted attack which must have relied on China activists’ use of Microsoft Windows.

As the name suggests, the carefully crafted assaults differ from the net-cast-wide malware most often seen. A targeted attack specifically selects its victim and generally sends an e-mail using that person’s name and perhaps business title. The body of the message might reference an attached list of business contacts, or describe it as an invoice, or use any other hook that would allay suspicion and convince the victim to double-click the attachment.

Real activists do not use Windows and should use GNU/Linux. A few moments ago, our reader Jose added information that confirms the above. It’s an AP article titled “Microsoft’s browser flaw exposed Google to hackers” and it says (in the opening): “Microsoft says a security flaw in its Internet Explorer browser played a role in the recent computer attacks against Google and at least 20 other companies.”

In other news, a bank server has just been compromised and Baidu got hit by the same group that exploited Windows botnets to take down Twitter [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6]. We mentioned this story here and there’s more from The Register:

The same group that used a DNS attack to hijack Twitter last month has defaced the home page of Chinese search engine Baidu.

Surfers visiting Baidu site on Monday night were confronted by the message “This site has been hacked by Iranian Cyber Army”, together with an image of the Iranian flag. Early speculation suggests the attack involved changing Baidu’s DNS records rather than a direct attack on the site itself, but this remains unconfirmed.

Baidu — unlike Google — was not a victim of customers who use Windows. Google should tell customers that it’s not Google that’s vulnerable; it’s Windows. Customers should therefore rethink their platform preferences. The same already goes for banks, for similar reasons.

Share this post: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Reddit
  • co.mments
  • DZone
  • email
  • Google Bookmarks
  • LinkedIn
  • NewsVine
  • Print
  • Technorati
  • TwitThis
  • Facebook

If you liked this post, consider subscribing to the RSS feed or join us now at the IRC channels.

Pages that cross-reference this one

13 Comments

  1. Yuhong Bao said,

    January 14, 2010 at 8:50 pm

    Gravatar

    “Check this one out for example: (the emphasis in red is ours)”
    That is not enough evidence, as it do not say anything about security holes in Windows being used.
    But turned out that flaws in IE was indeed used in the attacks, again by MS’s own admission:
    http://arstechnica.com/microsoft/news/2010/01/microsoft-warns-of-ie-security-flaw-used-in-google-attacks.ars
    And technically IE is indeed part of Windows, though other web browsers work on Windows too that do not have the flaw.
    But Adobe was partly to blame too:
    http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9144378/Hackers_used_rigged_PDFs_to_hit_Google_and_Adobe_says_researcher

    Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    It seems like a case of “double-click to execute” in Windows, invoking proprietary software that’s vulnerable (opening of a file leading to system compromise).

    Yuhong Bao Reply:

    Nope, it did turned out to depend on a real security vulnerability, but if that was true, it would not be MS’s fault at all (unless a stupid feature like AutoPlay was used), and that is my point.

    your_friend Reply:

    Not a Microsoft flaw? Was it a Mac Botnet? A GNU/Linux botnet? An OpenSolaris or BSD botnet? How about a botnet within Google’s own servers? I don’t think win32.dll will run in any of those others. Only Microsoft computers have this kind of problem. Nailing down the exact causes of these massive attacks will be like naming ants, there are too many security problems in Windows to begin to make sense of it and the botnet masters use them all.

    Windows needs to be taken off the web before it ruins the web for everyone.

    Yuhong Bao Reply:

    Indeed, I was not claiming that the botnet runs on anything other than Windows, I was trying to say that just because that it runs on Windows doesn’t mean MS is to blame. Now it did turned out MS is indeed partly to blame, I was just saying that the cited evidence was not enough.

    Yuhong Bao Reply:

    “Was it a Mac Botnet? A GNU/Linux botnet? An OpenSolaris or BSD botnet? How about a botnet within Google’s own servers?”
    Yes, these are all in theory possible, which is why assigning blame properly is so important.

    Yuhong Bao Reply:

    Now, whether this flaw warrant a switch away from Windows would be a different matter, but I will say that it would warrant a switch away from IE, not Windows. After all, IE gets security flaws almost all the time, and do people switch away from Windows because of it? No, of course not, since you can run other browsers on Windows.

    Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    I have an update on this:

    Adobe Flaw Wasn’t Part of Attack on Google

    http://www.pcworld.com/article/187043/adobe_flaw_wasnt_part_of_attack_on_google.html?tk=rss_news

  2. NotZed said,

    January 15, 2010 at 6:51 am

    Gravatar

    I’d like to see google show some real nuts and ban microsoft products from their services, if they are the real basis of the problem.

    (TBH, I don’t have much sympathy with anyone using Microsoft Windows and being taken advantage of – in an informed world they have some responsibility for their dumb decisions too.)

    Needs Sunlight Reply:

    Ten and eleven years ago, there were quite a few university IT departments which started to ban Microsoft products. You can see now how technical decisions were overridden with organized crime-like methods.

    Microsofters were complaining that University educated engineers and technical staff, ” someone on team fresh out of college”, knew better than to run Microsoft products. See slide 2:
    http://groklaw.net/staticpages/index.php?page=ComesExhN04#E9346

    Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    This reminds me that we ought to do more Comes-derived posts pretty soon. I’ve been sent some pointers to yet-undiscovered smoking guns.

    Yuhong Bao Reply:

    In this case, it is an IE flaw, and Google is already encouraging a switch away from IE.

    Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    Thanks. I shall do a followup post.

What Else is New


  1. Links 4/8/2015: KDE.org Redesign, Point Linux 3.0

    Links for the day



  2. Microsoft Admits Vista 10 Not a 'Free' 'Upgrade', Especially If You Upgrade

    Microsoft debunks its own false promises, showing that Vista 10 as 'free' is virtually a mirage



  3. Free Software is Commercial

    orporate media helps stigmatise Free/Open Source software as unsuitable for commercial use and once again it uses the 'security' card



  4. 'Sanader’s Protégé' Željko Topić Slammed by Press in His Home Country

    The mischiefs of Benoît Battistelli and Željko Topić still not forgotten while temporary calm prevails at the EPO



  5. Links 3/8/2015: Linux 4.2 RC5, Korora 22

    Links for the day



  6. The World is Changing and Patent Law Can Change Either for Better or for Worse

    Recent secret dealings (which are being exposed to the public owing to whistle-blowers) show the degree of coordination and collusion against public interests; it's up to us, the majority, to fight back and tackle this injustice



  7. The Latest on Patent 'Reform' in the US: GOP Media Deception, Healthwashing Patents, and SIIA Lobbying

    Techrights looks at the more prominent actors driving patent policy in the US, with budget to absorb and agenda to lobby for



  8. Newegg Uses Its Fight Against Patent Trolls for Marketing

    Comments on Newegg's fight against patent trolls in court, setting an example for other companies



  9. Microsoft Lies, Propaganda, Embedded 'Journalism' and Other Dirty Tricks to Promote Vista 10

    The Vista 10 entrapment is being sold to the public using bogus/unverified figures, Microsoft propagandists pretending to be journalists, and some gullible people who actually believe them



  10. Microsoft -- Like Bill Gates -- Bribes PBS for Propaganda to be Presented as 'TV Programme'

    Microsoft pays the supposedly 'public' network to act as courier of Microsoft marketing, shrewdly disguised as 'information'



  11. Links 2/8/2015: KDE Applications 15.08 Beta, Zorin OS 10

    Links for the day



  12. Links 1/8/2015: Steam Sale, blackPanther OS 14.1

    Links for the day



  13. Vista 10 Inherently Criminal: Vandalising the Competition (Dual Boot, Rival Web Browsers, Online Services)

    Vista 10, the latest incarnation of Windows, takes its anticompetitive aspects to a whole new level, betraying even so-called 'partners' in the process



  14. As Microsoft AstroTurfing/PR Budget Runs Dry, Vista 10 Truths Come Out

    The media manipulation by Microsoft (to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars spent on 'marketing') grows thin as a growing number of growingly angry early adopters of Vista 10 publicly rant



  15. Links 31/7/2015: Lennart Poettering as 'Linux Hero' and systemd Conference Coming

    Links for the day



  16. Links 30/7/2015: Apache Spark on Z System, Elive 2.6.8 Beta

    Links for the day



  17. Microsoft's Mouthpiece Mary Branscombe Tries to Shoot Down Free Software, But Fails Miserably

    At the CBS-owned ZDNet, which is Free/Open Source software-hostile, new FUD surfaces, but the FUD is so flawed that a full rebuttal is easy and almost imperative



  18. People of New Zealand Must Rise Up to Defend Sovereignty and Stop Software Patents

    The TPPA serves to override (launder) the law of New Zealand, allegedly legalising patents on software in the process



  19. Microsoft Illegally Evades Billions of Dollars in Tax, Says IRS

    The criminal enterprise known as Microsoft finds itself embarrassingly exposed in the courtroom, for the IRS belatedly (decades too late) targets the company in an effort to tackle massive tax evasions



  20. Vista 10 Very Buggy Upon Release, Just as We Have Repeatedly Warned for Weeks

    Vista 10 is prematurely pushed out the door (to meet a deadline) way ahead of it being stable, even remotely polished, and supported by hardware companies (there is a serious drivers issue)



  21. Surveillance Machine With a Keylogger: Vista 10 Will Spy on the User (Over the Internet) Even While Playing Games

    Microsoft is making it clear that even playing a simple game like Solitaire on Vista 10 will make one subjected to spying (for targeted ads); other serious violations of privacy revealed upon release



  22. Links 29/7/2015: Akademy 2015 Ends, NetBSD 7.0 RC

    Links for the day



  23. MPEG-LA is Preparing New Patent Obstruction (Called DASH) Against Free Software, OIN Grows

    A new conspiracy against free multimedia software, set up by the MPEG cartel, is called DASH



  24. New Zealand's Media Gets History Wrong on Software Patents

    Setting the record straight on the fight against software patents in New Zealand



  25. Not Only Vista 10 Crashes a Lot, Any .NET Application Does Too (Updated)

    Microsoft software is quickly becoming synonymous with crashes as any piece of software developed with Microsoft's tools, not just the underlying platform, crashes chronically



  26. The Government of Bulgaria Sells Out to Microsoft, Again

    Despite some promises and reassurances that Bulgaria will consider Free/libre software, the Bulgarian government hands out a lot more of taxpayers' money to the Mafia



  27. Corporate Media Finally Finds Out That Vista 10 Crashes a Lot

    Stability issues of Vista 10 are belatedly reported to be a major catastrophe, leaving it unusable for many early adopters



  28. Links 28/7/2015: Linux 4.2 RC4, New Logos and Bug 'Branding' for FUD

    Links for the day



  29. Patents Roundup: Technicolor, Alice, Voip-Pal, Fitbit, Marijuana Patents, and JDate

    A look at some of last week's patent news, with imperative responses that criticise corporate exploitation of patents for protectionism (excluding and/or driving away the competition using legal threats)



  30. Corporate Lobbyists Including Koch-Connected Front Groups Attack Real and Perceived Patent Reform in the United States

    Looking at some of the latest propaganda for and against a bill which is already too watered-down to actually fix the US patent system


CoPilotCo

RSS 64x64RSS Feed: subscribe to the RSS feed for regular updates

Home iconSite Wiki: You can improve this site by helping the extension of the site's content

Home iconSite Home: Background about the site and some key features in the front page

Chat iconIRC Channel: Come and chat with us in real time

CoPilotCo

Recent Posts