Chinese Used 'Flaws' in Microsoft Explorer to Hack Google

The Chinese managed to hack Google accounts of human activists and many businesses thanks to flaws in Microsoft's Internet Explorer (IE) browser, according to reports Friday.

Google has threatened to close its operations and offices in China after hacking and "phishing'' attempts to break into gmail accounts of US, China and Europe based Chinese human rights activists.

The company, which agreed to censor of at its launch in 2006, has also said it is "no longer willing to continue censoring our results on''

Reports Friday quoted security researcher McAfee Inc. as saying that Chinese cyber attacks on Google accounts were engineered by using an unknown flaw in Microsoft's Internet Explorer browser.

According to McAfee, 'phishers' fooled users into clicking on a link to a website. This website then secretly downloaded malicious software onto their computers. The spyware allowed the hackers to take remote control of the computers.

Microsoft has already admitted in its blog that IE browser might be used by hackers to remotely spy on infected computers. It is likely to unveil a software update for the browser.

"We need to take all cyber attacks, not just this one, seriously,'' Microsoft Chief Executive Steve Ballmer told CNBC.

"We have a whole team of people that responds in very real time to any report that it may have something to do with our software, which we don't know yet,'' he said.

Google has said that "these accounts have not been accessed through any security breach at Google, but most likely via phishing scams or malware placed on the users' computers.''

It says it will soon hold discussions the Chinese soon whether it can operate an unfiltered search engine. "We recognize that this may well mean having to shut down, and potentially our offices in China," Google warned in a blog Tuesday.

Published Date: Jan 16, 2010 11:15 am | Updated Date: Jan 16, 2010 11:15 am