In their official corporate blog last month, Google reported attacks originating from China on certain Gmail accounts. Further investigation revealed the Gmail accounts belonged to Chinese human rights activists. And then they found that accounts of dozens of U.S., China and Europe-based Gmail users, who are advocates of human rights in China, were accessed via phishing scams or malware placed on users’ computers.
When Google.cn (China) was launched in 2006 it agreed to censorship by the Chinese government. However, based on these latest attacks and increasing limits on free speech on the web, Google is re-evaluating their position. It is a possibility, dependent on their talks with the Chinese government they will cease operating in that land.
What are we to do when a sovereign government breaches security and attacks its own people? Who do you turn to for recompense? What additional security measures can one take?
Google is already warning all users to deploy anti-virus and anti-spyware programs, to install patches for their operating systems, to update their web browsers and to be cautious when clicking on links appearing in instant messages and emails.
But is this enough? In the old days when the government snooped on you they wire-tapped your phone, camped outside your house with long lens cameras, sifted through your trash and followed you around. It took a lot of effort and expense to spy on someone. Now in the cyber age, the snoopers are faceless and attack millions with little effort. What can one do?
Individual and corporate security measures will safeguard you to a certain point. But when a government attacks, ultimately it is the human response, the people at every node of the network who safeguard our freedoms. Unplugging will not be an option unless we desire to return to the Stone Age. Thus behind every security measure there must be people willing to stand for what is right.