Google Holds China over Gmail Attack

Google is holding China accountable for hacking into its Gmail system - blaming the government for a series of technical glitches that have affected Gmail users in China and elsewhere in Asia.

Google has previously said traffic had been interfered with in China, but had stopped short of accusing the authorities of hacking its systems.

However, as complaints over technical glitches and performance issues mounted from both end users and advertisers, Google has upped its rhetoric.

"There is no technical issue on our side. We have checked extensively," Google said in a statement quoted by several leading newspapers. "This is a government blockage carefully designed to look like the problem is with Gmail."

The accusation came in the wake of China mounting a crackdown aimed at disrupting the so-called "Jasmine Revolution" - a group of online dissidents following in the footsteps of protesters in the Middle East.

Google has been battling this particular attack for 10 days, when it first noticed a high-level exploitation of a known vulnerability in Windows.

"We've noticed some highly targeted and apparently politically motivated attacks against our users," Google said in blog post at the time.

"We believe activists may have been a specific target. We've also seen attacks against users of another popular social site. All these attacks abuse a publicly-disclosed MHTML vulnerability - with the Internet Explorer browser affected."

According to Google, the attack was particularly serious because it exploited an entire web service, rather than targeting end-user computers.

"The abuse of this vulnerability is interesting because it represents a new quality in the exploitation of web-level vulnerabilities," the company said. "To date, similar attacks focused on directly compromising users' systems, as opposed to leveraging vulnerabilities to interact with web services."

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