Google hackers were rank amateurs

More evidence is emerging that that far from being cyber agents of the Chinese Empire, the infamous Google hack was the work of amateurs.

According to a new report  from McAfee the Operation Aurora attack targeted the source code management systems of companies, allowing them to siphon source code as well as modify it.

McAfee said that Google’s source code had numerous security flaws that would allow easy compromise of a company’s intellectual property.

According to the paper, the hackers gained access to software configuration management systems (SCM), which could have allowed them to steal proprietary source code or surreptitiously make changes to the code that could seep undetected into commercial versions of the company’s software product.

Dmitri Alperovitch, McAfee’s vice president for threat research said the SCM’s were wide open and no one ever thought about securing them.

If MacAfee was correct and this was the attack vector used then it is surprising that the hackers did not do more damage. All that happened was a somewhat half hearted attempt to get email from half a dozen dissidents over a period of months.

However, another report  by security outfit Damballa said that the botnet used in the attack was running since July.

Gunter Ollmann, vice president of research at Damballa and one of the authors of the report said that botnet was in many ways unremarkable.

Aurora was just another increasingly common botnet attack and one that is “more amateur than average.”

The major malware families associated with the Aurora botnet attacks are distinct and are unlikely to have been developed by the same malware engineer, the report said.

In otherwords the software was made using conventional hacker software pulled off the world wide wibble just like a script kiddie would have done.

If it is the work of the glorious Chinese government, then it is likely that Western governments have nothing to worry about.  Unless you are a US defence contractor who wants to sell shedloads of security to the US government on the back of cyber war fears.