Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer suggests that the latest round of cyber-attacks reportedly originating from China have not fundamentally changed the security environment on the Internet, even as Google threatens to shut down its Chinese operations in the wake of the assault. In addition to targeting the Gmail accounts of several Chinese human rights activists, the hackers apparently attempted to penetrate the IT infrastructure of a number of U.S. companies.
Microsoft is emphasizing that none of its e-mail systems were targeted in
the recent high-profile cyber-attacks that have Google threatening to pull its
business out of mainland China.
"We have no indication that any of our mail properties have been
compromised," a Microsoft spokesperson told eWEEK on Jan. 14.
In addition, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer
suggested that such cyber-attacks, which apparently targeted
the Gmail accounts of several Chinese human rights activists
in addition to
the IT infrastructure of a number of U.S.
companies, are a matter of course on the modern Web.
"Every large institution is being hacked," Ballmer told the
Financial Times, in a quote later confirmed to eWEEK by the company. "I
don't think it's a fundamental change in the security environment on the
Internet." Microsoft reportedly has no plans to pull its operations out of
Google said at least 20 other companies were the targets of cyber-attacks
originating from within China.
In the wake of the assault, Secretary
of State Hillary Clinton reportedly said,
"We have been briefed by
Google on these allegations, which raise very serious concerns and questions.
We look to the Chinese government for an explanation."
government official, Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, also raised the issue of
security for companies operating in conjunction with China.
"The recent cyber-intrusion that Google attributes to China
is troubling to the U.S.
government and American companies doing business in China,"
Locke said in a statement. "This incident should be equally troubling to
the Chinese government. The administration encourages the government of China
to work with Google and other U.S.
companies to ensure a climate for secure commercial operations in the Chinese
Despite the publicity surrounding the attacks and Google's possible withdrawal
Google has continued to assert that the cloud-computing model is fundamentally
"This was not
an assault on cloud computing,
" Google Chief Legal Officer David
Drummond wrote in a post on the company's official blog Jan. 12. "It was
an attack on the technology infrastructure of major corporations in sectors as
diverse as finance, technology, media and chemical. The route the attackers
used was malicious software used to infect personal computers."
Drummond added: "Any computer connected to the Internet can fall victim
to such attacks. While some intellectual property on our corporate network was
compromised, we believe our customer cloud-based data remains secure."