Chinese Yahoo Users Suffer Hacked Email Accounts

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The Yahoo email accounts of some human rights activists and journalists in China and Taiwan have reportedly been hacked into

Yahoo users in both China and Taiwan have claimed that their Yahoo email accounts have been hacked into, in the latest batch of cyber attacks affecting users and companies in China.

The attacks have reportedly affected yahoo.com email addresses, rather than yahoo.cn addresses.

Email Accounts Inaccessible

Kathleen McLaughlin, a freelance journalist in Beijing, told Reuters that she was among a number of journalists that were unable to access their accounts from 25 March, although her access has now been restored as of Wednesday.

Among other compromised accounts are those of the World Uyghur Congress, which is an exiled group that China accuses of inciting separatism by ethnic Uighurs.

“I suspect a lot of information in my Yahoo account was downloaded,” the group’s spokesman, Dilxat Raxit, told Reuters. He said the email account, which was set up in Sweden, has been inaccessible for a month.

“A lot of people I used to contact in Lanzhou, Xi’an and elsewhere have not been reachable by phone for the past few weeks,” he said, adding he had used the Yahoo email account to contact them in the past.

Meanwhile according to the Financial Times newspaper, Andrew Jacobs, a Beijing-based journalist for the New York Times, wrote that his Yahoo Plus account had been set without his knowledge to forward to another, unknown, account.

Google recently announced that it had closed its mainland Chinese office, and that it had stopped censoring its Google Search, Google News, and Google Images sites on Google.cn. It instead redirected those who visit the Chinese search engine to its Hong Kong site (Google.com.hk), where it is now serving uncensored search in simplified Chinese.

However earlier this week Chinese web users complained that the Hong Kong version of Google was returning an error page on every standard search, sparking fears that they were being blocked by the Chinese government.

Other Hacking Complaints

Google’s problems in China exploded into the limelight back in January, after the company complained that the Gmail accounts of dozens of human rights activists had being hacked from within China. However, the Chinese Government has consistently denied it was behind the attack, and told Google that it should follow the law when the search engine threatened to stop censoring Chinese search results.

Yet this is not the first time journalists have complained of email hacks in China.

After the Google attack came to light, the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of China (FCCC), based in Beijing, said that their reporters had had their Google Gmail accounts hijacked. The FCCC stopped short of accusing the Chinese government or any other entity of taking part in the hijacking, but warned members to be mindful of security.

“Foreign correspondents in a few bureaus in Beijing have recently discovered that their Gmail accounts had been hijacked,” the group said. “Their emails were being forwarded to a stranger’s address.”

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Author: Tom Jowitt
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