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Legal activist discovers a hacked Gmail account

JDM100114tengbiaos.jpg
Teng Biao's forwarding address

Teng Biao, who lectures on law at the University of Politics and Law in Beijing and is involved in human rights issues in China, blogged today about unexpected settings on his Gmail account:

DON’T BE EVIL

1. Today, acting upon the instruction of a wise Twitter user, I inspected the security settings of my Gmail address ("tengbiao89@gmail.com"). WTF! My email had been secretly forwarded to "tengbiao1989@gmail.com" (see photo).

2. At present I do not know whether I am one of the two human rights activists mentioned on the official Google blog post whose Gmail accounts were compromised. The address "against.teng@gmail.com" that I used for many years was hacked multiple times, and I issued a statement at the time. In January, 2008, it was stolen completely.

3. Google's withdrawal from China is disappointing. Yet accepting censorship and abandoning its "don't be evil" principles in order to remain in China is more than just disappointing.

Teng goes on to reproduce a post written in October, 2007, when his previous account was compromised and used to send out false rumors meant to discredit him:

A friend called me up to say that my email account was sending crazy messages. I had him send a copy over immediately: the original subject line read, "Chen Guangcheng caves, makes deal," and it was sent on October 30 by "against.teng@gmail.com". The few lines it contained had been fabricated several months before: "Informed source: Chen XX makes deal with CPC," "will no longer speak on 'democracy' or 'human rights' and will cut off all connection to outside civic movements and rights protection," "for behind-the-scenes details, see attachment." One glance tells you it's a total fake.

Hu, who was dubious about the email when he received it, wrote back in reply asking if I had sent it. Amazingly, "I" replied, "Yes. I just saw it yesterday, and I hope you can forward it on. Thanks!" Hu was still skeptical, but it was only after giving me a telephone call that he realized that the reply was a fake, too.

The "mole" had entered my mailbox unchallenged! Today is Halloween in the west, but this development is scarier than any ghost.

As a result of that fourth incursion, Teng switched to his present Gmail address. Now that one appears to have been compromised as well.

Related: ChinaHush has translated the account of another Gmail user who discovered that sensitive mail forwarded from Gmail to a China-based email provider often did not reach its destination.

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Tibetan activist among Google hacking victims
Phayul[Thursday, January 14, 2010 16:40]
By Kalsang Rinchen

Tibetans and supporters protest Google's censorship in China at Google Headquarters in Mountain View, CA, January 2006. File photo
Tibetans and supporters protest Google's censorship in China at Google Headquarters in Mountain View, CA, January 2006. File photo
Dharamsala, January 14 – It is not just human rights activist in China whose GMail accounts were hacked, according to a New York Times report which said a Tibetan student of Stanford University, and an activist of Students for a Free Tibet, was asked by university officials in early January to contact Google as her GMail account had been hacked, indicating that “Google was notifying activists whose e-mail accounts might have been compromised by hackers,” even before it made public its threat to pull out.

Tenzin Seldon, 20, said she immediately contacted David Drummond, Google’s chief legal officer.

“David informed me that my account was hacked by someone in China,” Ms. Seldon told NY Times in a telephone interview. “They were concerned and asked whether they could see my laptop.”

Ms. Seldon immediately changed her password and became more careful of what she wrote. She also allowed Google to examine her personal computer at the company’s request. Google returned it this week, saying that while no viruses or malware had been detected, her account had indeed been entered surreptitiously.

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