- Wed, 03/31/2010 - 12:00
By Stefanie Hoffman, ChannelWeb
7:28 PM EDT Wed. Mar. 31, 2010
Cyber hackers have targeted the Yahoo (NSDQ:YHOO) e-mail accounts of journalists and activists who have previously written about or been outspoken about China with a malicious attack this week, followingGoogle (NSDQ: GOOG)'s announcement to move its search office out of the mainland.
Specifically, several journalists in both China and Taiwan said that they were unable to access their Yahoo accounts, in what appeared to be an orchestrated assault starting March 25.
Yahoo e-mail service seemed to be restored Wednesday after a five-day outage.
Altogether, those targeted in the Yahoo e-mail attack included a U.S. law professor, an analyst who had written about China's security and several print journalists based in Beijing and Taipei, The New York Times reported.
Also targeted in the attack were activist members of the group World Uyghur Congress, which works to establish greater autonomy for China's Xinjiang region, and had accused China of provoking and inciting ethnic separatism by ethnic Uyghurs in the Chinese region of Xinjiang, according to Reuters.
A spokesperson for the World Uyghur Congress, said that several e-mail messages disappeared from one of his Yahoo accounts, while another account remains inaccessible, he told The New York Times.
The attack occurred days after Google announced plans to move its Chinese-language search services out of the mainland to its satellite site in Hong Kong based on escalating censorship concerns, fueling existing tensions between China and the search engine giant.
Another freelance journalist, Kathleen McLaughlin, a member of the board of the Foreign Correspondents Club of China, told The New York Times that the group had confirmed that the Yahoo accounts of 10 journalists, including her own, had been targeted in the attack. McLaughlin said that she too had received an alert from Yahoo on March 25 notifying her that there was an issue with her account.
While Yahoo has publicly stated that it condemns all online cyber attacks, the search company has faced previous criticism for complying with China's censorship policies when it turned over data used by the Chinese government to prosecute suspected dissidents in 2006.
Meanwhile, Google's plans to move out of mainland China are another chapter in the ongoing saga of soured relations with China. Tensions escalated to an all-time high in January, when cyber attacks thought to be sourced from China were launched on the networks of Google and more than 30 other multinational companies in an effort to lift intellectual property. Later that same month, a round of cyber attacks targeted Gmail account holders.