Google’s claims that Vietnamese computer users were spied on and blogs critical of the government were hacked into were rejected by Vietnamese authorities talking to the AFP, telling the news agency that these were “groundless opinions”.
A spokeswoman from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that Vietnam has “specific regulations against computer viruses, harmful software and for ensuring information security and secrecy.”
Google said on March 30 that it had found that Vietnamese computers around the world were infected by malware after downloading software that would allow Vietnamese characters to work with a standard keyboard. While the software was not sophisticated, it has been used, according to Neel Mehta from Google’s Security Team, for damaging purposes.
“These infected machines have been used both to spy on their owners as well as participate in distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks against blogs containing messages of political dissent,” Mehta wrote in a blog post.
“Specifically, these attacks have tried to squelch opposition to bauxite mining efforts in Vietnam, an important and emotionally charged issue in the country.”
McAfee also posted a blog post (also dated in March 30) that the people behind this latest attack “may have political motivations and may have some allegiance to the government of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.” McAfee also said that they believe the attacks are a separate incident than the attacks by China that were revealed in January under the title of Operation Aurora.
In response, Google tried to convince the Chinese government to uncensor its results, before moving to Hong Kong in late March – making good on its announcement not to follow the culture of censorship in the country. Yahoo and Microsoft have decided to stay in mainland China.