Posted January 26, 2010 7:36 am by with 3 comments

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As more and more layers of the Google v China spy activity and accusations continue to get peeled back this onion really is starting to stink a bit. It appears as if the victims of “Googlegate” (you like that one?) were not just those labeled as human rights activists. In fact, it has been discovered that friends of employees of many of the companies that were attacked were targeted as well.

The Financial Times Reports

Personal friends of employees at Google, Adobe and other companies were targeted by hackers in a string of recently disclosed cyberattacks, raising privacy concerns and pointing to a highly sophisticated operation, security experts said.

The most significant discovery is that the attackers had selected employees at the companies with access to proprietary data, then learnt who their friends were. The hackers compromised the social network accounts of those friends, hoping to enhance the probability that their final targets would click on the links they sent.

This can certainly be a little disconcerting for those who are friends of these employees of the various companies who say things like “I can’t tell you that or I’d have to kill you.” It’s been said it’s good to have friends in high places but in this world that can be trouble.

McAffe has been keeping tabs on this situation for many reasons. George Kurtz, chief technology officer had this to say.

McAfee discovered that a previously unknown flaw in Microsoft’s Internet Explorer had been used in the attacks. Mr Kurtz said the attackers also used one of the most popular instant messaging programmes to induce victims to click on a link that installed spy software.

Well, that’s what you get when you use IE instead of your own company’s browser, huh? I suspect there were some Googlers getting an earful about that aspect of this story.

So how does this impact those in the Internet marketing industry? Probably too early to tell but one has to suspect that as more and more security holes are discovered and capitalized on there will be more and more need to lock down systems. As systems become more closed it will be harder to reach people with marketing techniques and messages. The reality is that while the Internet marketing industry doesn’t try to make a big deal about it security concerns are a tremendous threat to commerce on the Internet. This quote sums it up.

Sam Curry, vice-president of security firm RSA, said: “This is a loud message for the commercial world, which is: wake up, this isn’t all happiness and goodness and new business.

“Doing business on the internet is as risky as sending ships through the Panama Canal.”

Having never been on a ship or sent anything on a ship that has gone through the Panama Canal I can’t speak to just how bad that is but the point is that doing business on the Internet may look different in the future more because of security and less because of innovation.