Google: Malware targets Vietnamese activists

The search giant warns of cyberattacks on those opposed to a China-backed mining plan

Google says that politically motivated malware has been used to spy on Vietnamese computer users and attack activist blogs over the past several months.

"In January, we discussed a set of highly sophisticated cyber attacks that originated in China and targeted many corporations around the world," wrote Google engineer Neel Mehta in a company blog Tuesday. "We have gathered information about a separate cyber threat that was less sophisticated but that nonetheless was employed against another community."

Last week, Google shut down its Chinese search operations, a move spurred in part by the late-2009 cyberattacks.

Although the command and control servers associated with this Vietnamese botnet used some of the same domains as the Google attacks, security vendor McAfee believes that the Vietnamese botnet is not related. Some files originally thought to be associated with the Google attack were actually associated with this Vietnamese malware, the company said.

The Vietnamese malware apparently began spreading in late 2009, when someone hacked into the Web site run by the Vietnamese Professionals Society and replaced a keyboard driver that's offered for download on the site with a malicious Trojan horse program.

"We believe that the perpetrators may have political motivations and may have some allegiance to the government of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam," wrote McAfee CTO George Kurtz in a Tuesday blog post. His company has also investigated the so-called Aurora attacks that hit Google and other companies.

The DDoS attacks linked to the Vietnamese botnet "tried to squelch opposition to bauxite mining efforts in Vietnam, an important and emotionally charged issue in the country," Mehta wrote.

The Vietnamese government is working with Chinese mining interests to establish bauxite mines in Vietnam's lush central highlands region. Critics warn that this could become an environmental disaster, spawned by bauxite mining's toxic runoff. Bauxite is used to produce aluminum.

Google rarely blogs about this type of malware, but in an e-mail message, a company spokesman said that the company decided to go public with its findings "because we feel that the use of malware to spy on computer owners and to participate in distributed denial of service attacks against blogs containing messages of political dissent is especially egregious."

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags malwareGoogle

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Robert McMillan

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Stocking Stuffer

SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Laura Johnston

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.

Featured Content

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?