TECH
11/29/2010 08:04 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

China's Politburo Masterminded Google Hack, WikiLeaks Documents Reveal

WikiLeaks' release of over 250,000 classified documents has brought to light some of the U.S. government's incriminating secrets--such as the revelation that U.S. diplomats spied on U.N. officials. But other governments are also seeing some of their dirty laundry aired.

The WikiLeaks cables reveal that China's Politburo masterminded the highly publicized computer attack aimed at Google, which sparked a stand-off between China and the search giant that ended with Google closing its search operations in China.

The hack, described by Google at the time as a "highly sophisticated and targeted attack on our corporate infrastructure originating from China," targeted Gmail accounts belonging Chinese dissidents and human rights activists. Security experts also found that in what may have been a separate incident, hackers tried to steal the computer source code of Google, along with over 30 other firms working in China.

Although Google did not explicitly accuse the Chinese government of masterminding the attacks, according to the New York Times' analysis of the WikiLeaks documents, that is exactly what happened:

China's Politburo directed the intrusion into Google's computer systems in that country, a Chinese contact told the American Embassy in Beijing in January, one cable reported. The Google hacking was part of a coordinated campaign of computer sabotage carried out by government operatives, private security experts and Internet outlaws recruited by the Chinese government. They have broken into American government computers and those of Western allies, the Dalai Lama and American businesses since 2002, cables said.

The Chinese government's role in the Google attacks was strongly suspected even ahead of the WikiLeaks leak. In a report released in January 2010, iDefense, a security company, pinned the blame on Chinese officials, explaining that "source IPs and drop server of the attack correspond to a single foreign entity consisting either of agents of the Chinese state or proxies thereof."

Google has not yet commented on the WikiLeaks finding.