Google: Malware targets Vietnamese activists

The search giant warns of cyberattacks on those opposed to a China-backed mining plan

Google says that politically motivated malware has been used to spy on Vietnamese computer users and attack activist blogs over the past several months.

"In January, we discussed a set of highly sophisticated cyber attacks that originated in China and targeted many corporations around the world," wrote Google engineer Neel Mehta in a company blog Tuesday. "We have gathered information about a separate cyber threat that was less sophisticated but that nonetheless was employed against another community."

Last week, Google shut down its Chinese search operations, a move spurred in part by the late-2009 cyberattacks.

Although the command and control servers associated with this Vietnamese botnet used some of the same domains as the Google attacks, security vendor McAfee believes that the Vietnamese botnet is not related. Some files originally thought to be associated with the Google attack were actually associated with this Vietnamese malware, the company said.

The Vietnamese malware apparently began spreading in late 2009, when someone hacked into the Web site run by the Vietnamese Professionals Society and replaced a keyboard driver that's offered for download on the site with a malicious Trojan horse program.

"We believe that the perpetrators may have political motivations and may have some allegiance to the government of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam," wrote McAfee CTO George Kurtz in a Tuesday blog post. His company has also investigated the so-called Aurora attacks that hit Google and other companies.

The DDoS attacks linked to the Vietnamese botnet "tried to squelch opposition to bauxite mining efforts in Vietnam, an important and emotionally charged issue in the country," Mehta wrote.

The Vietnamese government is working with Chinese mining interests to establish bauxite mines in Vietnam's lush central highlands region. Critics warn that this could become an environmental disaster, spawned by bauxite mining's toxic runoff. Bauxite is used to produce aluminum.

Google rarely blogs about this type of malware, but in an e-mail message, a company spokesman said that the company decided to go public with its findings "because we feel that the use of malware to spy on computer owners and to participate in distributed denial of service attacks against blogs containing messages of political dissent is especially egregious."

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags Googlemalware

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Robert McMillan

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Kurt Hegetschweiler

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

It’s perfect for mobile workers. Just take it out — it’s small enough to sit anywhere — turn it on, load a sheet of paper, and start printing.

Matthew Stivala

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

The HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer is a great device that fits perfectly into my fast paced and mobile lifestyle. My first impression of the printer itself was how incredibly compact and sleek the device was.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?