Earlier this month, it was discovered that China was using man-in-the-middle (MITM) attacks against Microsoft Outlook and Mozilla Thunderbird email clients, as well as smartphone apps that use IMAP and SMTP protocols. Or did it? A spokesman for the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) claims the allegations that Chinese authorities hacked into Outlook are just "groundless slander."
"The Chinese government is a staunch defender of the Internet's security, and resolutely opposes any form of cyberattack," the CAC said.
Image Source: Flickr (Robert Scoble)
Online censorship watchdog GreatFire.org pegged China's government as most likely being responsible, noting that "If our accusation is correct, this new attack signals that the Chinese authorities are intent on further cracking down on communication methods that they cannot readily monitor."
That's been the general trend recently -- the MITM attacks against Outlook and Thunderbird came just weeks after Gmail email services were shut down in China. The disruption in service forced many Chinese users to use domestic email services, which China can more easily monitor for signs of dissent.
Prior to that, Apple's iCloud service fell prey to what Apple described as "intermittent organized network attacks" in October of last year, the timing of which came after monitoring groups alleged that China was trying to steal information from iCloud. And before that, China had shut down Yahoo's mail service.