Chinese colleges deny Google hacking

Mon, Feb 22, 2010, 00:00

TWO EDUCATIONAL establishments in China have dismissed allegations that hacking attacks on Google and other firms originated from them, and said they were shocked at the accusations.

Last month, Google announced that it had faced a “highly sophisticated and targeted attack” in mid-December. The search engine giant said the attacks, which also affected 30 other companies, came from inside China and were focused on the e-mail accounts of rights activists and dissidents.

Incensed by the incidents, Google said it was considering pulling out of China over the attacks, as well as because of Beijing government policies to restrict internet freedom.

The attacks were reported last week by the New York Timesto have originated from servers at Shanghai’s Jiaotong University and Lanxiang Vocational School in the eastern province of Shandong.

“We were shocked and indignant to hear these baseless allegations, which may harm the university’s reputation,” a Jiaotong spokesperson told the Xinhua news agency.

The spokesperson told Xinhua that the university would fully co-operate with investigators if Google seeks judicial remedies.

The Communist Party chief at Lanxiang, Li Zixiang, denied the report, saying: “Investigation in the staff found no trace that the attacks originated from our school.” He said the school had no relations with the military. The New York Times report said Lanxiang had strong ties to the army.

Lanxiang has about 20,000 students learning vocational skills such as cooking, auto repair and hairdressing, Xinhua reported. It has basic courses in computer skills such as Photoshop, 3D drawing and Word, but does not teach software engineering.

China has repeatedly denied any involvement in internet attacks, saying it is opposed to hacking and has a consistent policy aimed at stopping cyber-attacks taking place.

Maj Gen Luo Yuan, who is with the Academy of Military Sciences, told the China Daily: “China has on many occasions reiterated that it opposes hackings, of any form and such activities are strictly prohibited by law. Its military would not go against the rules.” Beijing also defends its censorship of the internet, saying that it is aimed at cracking down on pornography and “helping young people”.

Chinese universities have strong military aspects. All university students take a month of compulsory military training, but the military has only recently started to woo graduates in a major way as the government tries to revolutionise the armed forces to keep in step with western armies.

“It was not until 2006 that our graduates began to join the army. So far, 38 students have been recruited by the military for their talent in auto repair, cooking and electric welding,” said Zhou Hui, director of Lanxiang school’s general office. He disputed claims in the New York Times article, which cited anonymous officials from the US National Security Agency, that there was a link to a computer science class taught at the school by a Ukrainian professor.