In January, Google reported a coordinated hack attack targeting Chinese human rights activists’ Gmail accounts. In response, Google (eventually) pulled their search engine from China.
And now the hackers are at it again. The Yahoo “e-mail accounts of more than a dozen rights activists, academics and journalists who cover China have been compromised by unknown intruders” last month, according to the New York Times. NYT reporter Andrew Jacobs, one of the targeted journalists, said the “hackers altered e-mail settings so that all correspondence was surreptitiously forwarded to another e-mail address.”
Several of the affected users received messages from Yahoo after problems accessing their accounts, according to the AP.
Yahoo hasn’t yet decided to respond, as Agence France Presse reports. Yesterday, the side stepped the news agency’s questions on the matter, only stating
Yahoo! condemns all cyberattacks regardless of origin or purpose. We are committed to protecting user security and privacy and we take appropriate action in the event of any kind of breach.
However, Yahoo doesn’t really have a whole of options. They left their Chinese business in 2005, selling their interests to Chinese e-commerce company Alibaba (which later had an IPO larger than Google‘s). They still own 39% of Alibaba, but don’t have operational control of the company. They may be able to shut down their email offerings, which are routed through Chinese servers.
There’s no indication that these are the same hackers (or not), although the targets are substantially similar. Victims this time included “a law professor in the United States, an analyst who writes about China’s security apparatus and several print journalists based in Beijing and Taipei, the capital of Taiwan,” the NYT reports.
What do you think? Should Yahoo shut down its Chinese email?