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. Specifically, these attacks have tried to squelch opposition to bauxite mining efforts in Vietnam, an important and emotionally charged issue in the country.
The AP reports that McAfee said the perpetrators may be linked to Vietnam’s Communist government. Similar accusations came about the Chinese government in their cyber attack. The Chinese government denied any involvement.
The Vietnamese cyber attacks were “not especially sophisticated,”
Google said, but like the Chinese attacks, they seemed to target dissidents and opponents to the government. Rather than hacking email accounts, this attack used malware to exploit software that enables Vietnamese users to run windows in their native language.
Naturally, the malware could also potentially target tens of thousands of other users who downloaded the translation software.
All right, let’s play conspiracy theory roulette. Cyber attacks in China eventually lead to Google.cn redirecting to Google.com.hk, which is now being blocked intermittently. Then we see more cyber attacks, targeting several of the most vocal international figures covering the country. And now another communist country sees attack against people who disagree with the government. It could be a massive effort to silence anti-communists—or it could be a massive effort to call attention to people who want to silence anti-communists.
(No, I don’t really think that. I have an overactive imagination.)
What do you think? Are attacks on government dissidents up? Why?