Google says Vietnamese speakers also being censored through cyber attack
Google on Tuesday identified another cyber attack aimed at squelching political dissent – this time aimed at Vietnamese-speaking Internet users.
The announcement comes on the heels of its claims yesterday that the Chinese government temporarily blocked its search engine for users in that nation.
In a blog post, the search giant said the attack on tens of thousands of Vietnamese computer users around the world was separate from that of China and less sophisticated, but “has nonetheless been used for damaging purposes.”
Google said it appeared that the attacks were meant to “squelch opposition” to a controversial Chinese-backed bauxite mining project in Vietnam. The company didn’t say where the attacks originated and a Google spokesperson didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
“These infected machines have been used both to spy on their owners as well as participate in distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks against blogs containing messages of political dissent,” said Neel Mehta, a member of Google’s security team, on the blog.
Security software provider McAfee also weighed in on the attacks in a separate blog.
"We believe that the perpetrators may have political motivations and may have some allegiance to the government of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam," wrote George Kurtz, McAfee's chief technology officer.
Last fall, the government detained several bloggers who criticized the bauxite mine, and in December, a Web site called bauxitevietnam.info, which had drawn millions of visitors opposed to the mine, was hacked.
The malware apparently began circulating at about that time, according the McAfee blog. It said someone hacked into a Web site run by the California-based Vietnamese Professionals Society and replaced a keyboard program that can be downloaded from that site with a malicious program.
Ben Stocking of the Associated Press contributed to this report from Hanoi.
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