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Statement from Google: A new approach to China

January 14, 2010

1/12/2010 - Like many other well-known organizations, we face cyber attacks
of varying degrees on a regular basis. In mid-December, we detected a highly
sophisticated and targeted attack on our corporate infrastructure
originating from China that resulted in the theft of intellectual property
from Google. However, it soon became clear that what at first appeared to be
solely a security incident--albeit a significant one--was something quite

First, this attack was not just on Google. As part of our investigation we
have discovered that at least twenty other large companies from a wide range
of businesses--including the Internet, finance, technology, media and
chemical sectors--have been similarly targeted. We are currently in the
process of notifying those companies, and we are also working with the
relevant U.S. authorities.

Second, we have evidence to suggest that a primary goal of the attackers was
accessing the Gmail accounts of Chinese human rights activists. Based on our
investigation to date we believe their attack did not achieve that
objective. Only two Gmail accounts appear to have been accessed, and that
activity was limited to account information (such as the date the account
was created) and subject line, rather than the content of emails themselves.

Third, as part of this investigation but independent of the attack on
Google, we have discovered that the accounts of dozens of U.S.-, China- and
Europe-based Gmail users who are advocates of human rights in China appear
to have been routinely accessed by third parties. These accounts have not
been accessed through any security breach at Google, but most likely via
phishing scams or malware placed on the users' computers.

We have already used information gained from this attack to make
infrastructure and architectural improvements that enhance security for
Google and for our users. In terms of individual users, we would advise
people to deploy reputable anti-virus and anti-spyware programs on their
computers, to install patches for their operating systems and to update
their web browsers. Always be cautious when clicking on links appearing in
instant messages and emails, or when asked to share personal information
like passwords online. You can read more here about our cyber-security
recommendations. People wanting to learn more about these kinds of attacks
can read this U.S. government report (PDF), Nart Villeneuve's blog and this
presentation on the GhostNet spying incident.

We have taken the unusual step of sharing information about these attacks
with a broad audience not just because of the security and human rights
implications of what we have unearthed, but also because this information
goes to the heart of a much bigger global debate about freedom of speech. In
the last two decades, China's economic reform programs and its citizens'
entrepreneurial flair have lifted hundreds of millions of Chinese people out
of poverty. Indeed, this great nation is at the heart of much economic
progress and development in the world today.

We launched in January 2006 in the belief that the benefits of
increased access to information for people in China and a more open Internet
outweighed our discomfort in agreeing to censor some results. At the time we
made clear that "we will carefully monitor conditions in China, including
new laws and other restrictions on our services. If we determine that we are
unable to achieve the objectives outlined we will not hesitate to reconsider
our approach to China."

These attacks and the surveillance they have uncovered--combined with the
attempts over the past year to further limit free speech on the web--have
led us to conclude that we should review the feasibility of our business
operations in China. We have decided we are no longer willing to continue
censoring our results on, and so over the next few weeks we will
be discussing with the Chinese government the basis on which we could
operate an unfiltered search engine within the law, if at all. We recognize
that this may well mean having to shut down, and potentially our
offices in China.

The decision to review our business operations in China has been incredibly
hard, and we know that it will have potentially far-reaching consequences.
We want to make clear that this move was driven by our executives in the
United States, without the knowledge or involvement of our employees in
China who have worked incredibly hard to make the success it is
today. We are committed to working responsibly to resolve the very difficult
issues raised.

Posted by David Drummond, SVP, Corporate Development and Chief Legal Officer
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