U.S. Seeks Answers in China Cyber Attacks

WASHINGTON — The U.S. will demand an explanation from China about how recent cyber attacks occurred against Google and more than 30 companies. It also wants to know what Beijing intends to do about it.

The Chinese government, meanwhile, downplayed the attacks on Friday and called on Google and other companies to respect its rules and regulations and said no matter what decision the search giant makes on its China operations, it is unlikely to affect overall U.S.-China trade relations.

Earlier this week Google threatened to withdraw from China, saying it had discovered massive hacking against itself and more than 30 companies that emanated from China.

One of the companies attacked was the Los Angeles law firm of Gipson Hoffman & Pancione, which is representing Cybersitter LLC in a $2.2 billion suit against the Chinese government and seven major Asian computer makers.

Santa Barbara, Calif.-based Cybersitter claims that two Chinese software developers and the Chinese government pirated parts of its Internet filtering software for the Green Dam Youth Escort program.

Cybersitter alleges thousands of lines of its code were copied for Green Dam, which specifically blocks porn.

Last year China mandated that Green Dam be installed on all computers in China, but it backed down and made use of the software optional after an outcry from international businesses and Chinese citizens.

An official from Gipson Hoffman said the coincidence of the attacks and the fact they represent Green Dam paint a clear picture.

The law firm said that on Monday evening its attorneys began receiving Trojan emails, disguised to appear as emails from other members of the firm, constructed to retrieve data from the company's computers.

Meanwhile, with Google ready to pull out of China, experts speculate that Google’s Chinese domain names are in jeopardy now the search engine has announced to end its support for censorship of searches.

China could now take several measures to block access to Google China to the just-reported 384 million Internet users in the country.

One of the simplest steps would be to confiscate the Google.cn domain name and other names owned by the search giant. But services such as gmail would go on in China because they are independent of the Google.cn search engine.