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Chinese Hackers Pinched the Tollgate on Google’s Cloud

Chinese Hackers got access to the code for the software that authenticates users of Google's Gmail and calendar

Google Session at Cloud Expo

Those unidentified but allegedly Chinese hackers who got into Google's repository in December got access to the code for the software that authenticates users of Google's Gmail and calendar and other online apps according to the Wall Street Journal, which quoted a "person familiar with the matter."

So far Google has only vaguely alluded to some unidentified "IP" being lost.

The hackers compromised a workstation used by a Google engineer through a seemingly innocent Microsoft Messenger instant message that connected to what the New York Times called a poisoned web site.

The intruders apparently knew who to target because they had access to Moma, Google corporate directory, which describes employees' jobs.

The breached system, known as Gaia (after the Greek goddess Earth), does not store the actual passwords or other user information, the Journal said, but the Times called it "one of Google's crown jewels," which may explain why Google subsequently pulled out of China, moving its Chinese-language search to Hong Kong.

The Times, which broke the latest news, said the source code theft took two days to pull off. The code was transferred to Rackspace's web-hosting computers and from there to an unknown destination.

The paper said that what the hackers have subsequently learned from it might be used to find other vulnerabilities that Google isn't aware of.

Gaia, which now has more locks on it, is now called Single Sign-On, according to the Times.

The attackers are believable to have already penetrated hundreds of other companies, worming their way into 20-50 new companies a week, the Journal was told. One intrusion of a brand name Silicon Valley firm goes back more than two years, the Times said.

More Stories By Maureen O'Gara

Maureen O'Gara the most read technology reporter for the past 20 years, is the Cloud Computing and Virtualization News Desk editor of SYS-CON Media. She is the publisher of famous "Billygrams" and the editor-in-chief of "Client/Server News" for more than a decade. One of the most respected technology reporters in the business, Maureen can be reached by email at maureen(at) or paperboy(at), and by phone at 516 759-7025. Twitter: @MaureenOGara

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