How China-Google Controversy Affects Business, Government Security



Updated March 13, 2015


There were more fireworks between China and Google on the 25th anniversary of the 1989 Tiananmen Square Massacre last year. It was from Chinese state media aimed at Google, Apple, Yahoo, Microsoft, Cisco Systems and Facebook.

The Chinese journalists wanted the government to “to punish severely the pawns” of the U.S. government. The tech firms are accused of spying on China.

It wasn’t entirely clear why the attacks were launched by a People’s Daily microblog and the English-language, China Daily. But my sense it was a smokescreen by China to dilute the renewed negative PR damage from the Tiananmen Square Massacre.

Ostensibly, it was related to the revelations by former U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden. You might recall his publicizing NSA’s widespread spying program.

The security issue between China and Google had quieted down after it appeared to be taking on new ramifications – threatening proprietary information for business and government agencies, if they do business with the giant search engine.

When Google was hacked in 2009 by cybercriminals in China, they stole a computer program that managed access to Google’s programs, according to a New York Times article.

In the past, Google has denied hackers were able to access personal information from Gmail accounts, but the search engine did not respond to The New York Times report.

Cloud services

“As the story makes clear, businesses considering cloud services like those offered by Google, Amazon and others must ‘look before they leap’,” warns Internet security expert Stan Stahl, Ph.D., Citadel Information Group, Inc. (www.citadel-information.com).

“While it’s probably obvious to look at the security provided by the cloud provider, less obvious is that the business needs to also look at that part of security that will still be its responsibility, the part of security that the cloud service provider isn’t providing,” says Dr. Stahl, as the go-to security authority.

“Security can never be a matter of looking at ‘this’ or ‘that.’ Security must always be about looking at ‘this’ and ‘that’,” he adds.

Two key questions

As a management consultant, I wonder about two other questions:

  1. What about the privacy of Google’s services, and business and government agencies?
  2. Is the threat to Google’s business model more severe than first thought?

Google’s services for the private and public sectors are not limited to the following but they include:

  •  AdSense is a platform for publishers to generate income by displaying a bevy of click-through advertisements, but Google requires sensitive information in order for publishers to receive payment. Google’s AdSense automatically inserts display and text ads, which are frequently changed.
  • Google Analytics is a service that helps Web site owners to understand how they’re faring with visitors , such as how they reach your Web site and what they visit.
  • AdWords is a sponsored links section. It’s the largest service of its kind and Google has the No. 1 market share.
  • Merchant Center uploads product listings in for use in a variety of ways. They include AdWords ads, Google Search, Google Product Search, and Google Commerce Search.
  • Checkout helps businesses increase sales by selling online.
  • Website Optimizer, with access to sites, tests content in order for publishers to optimize the conversion rates of their visitors.

(Disclosure: This business portal uses Google’s AdSense.)

Google’s “Gaia”

There are other Google services, but you get the idea.

The news article provided more alleged details including Google’s “Gaia.” That was Google’s stolen password system. Gaia is the Greek mythological goddess of earth. Gaia managed the entry to its services for the private and public sectors.

For more of the report’s details, see: Cyberattack on Google Said to Hit Password System

If The New York Times article was accurate, and my sense is that it was, businesses and public agencies doing business with Google might want to consider a security-needs assessment by a qualified expert.

The U.S. hasn’t been the only country to have complained about Chinese hackers.

British defense firm BAE Systems was hit by sophisticated Chinese online attacks more than 300+ times annually, according to a published report: British defence giant blames Chinese hackers for wave of cyber attacks.

Considering China’s size and record of hacking, this has also been a bigger threat to Google’s business model than we first believed. Its share of the Chinese search market plummeted to less than three percent after being forced to leave some years ago.

And ramifications remain for other businesses and governments.

From the Coach’s Corner, here are links to Internet security tips:

Security Precautions to Take Following Citibank’s Second Reported Online Breach – Citibank’s admission that private information of 360,083 North American Citigroup credit card accounts was stolen by hackers in 2011, which affected 210,000 customers, serves as a warning for all businesses and consumers to take precautionary steps.

Has Security Bloom Fallen off the Rose for Macs? – For years in terms of security, Windows has been considered inferior to Macs. But no longer thanks to malware security epidemics.

Tips For Internet Security to Prepare you for New Cyber Attacks – Do you need more evidence to be diligent in using best practices for security on the Internet? Internet attacks have been impacting businesses, with the majority of them reporting significant effects in the form of increased help desk time, reduced employee productivity and disruption of business activities.

“Diligence is the mother of good luck.”
-Benjamin Franklin 

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Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.


Seattle business consultant Terry Corbell provides high-performance management services and strategies.