China appears to be bringing the hammer down on American email services attempting to operate on its digital turf without officially banning them. The country briefly stole the cybervillian spotlight from North Korea last year when it allegedly crushed Gmail access for a long period of time. Now, according to watchdog GreatFire.org, Microsoft Outlook and Mozilla Thunderbird are experiencing a brutal man-in-the-middle (MITM) attack.
GreatFire.org keeps an eye on sites it believe blocked by China. (Source: GreatFire.org)
The MTIM attack affects email clients and apps that use IMAP and SMTP protocols. The hack can let attackers monitor emails. GreatFire.org reports that the Web-based version of Outlook appears not to have been compromised.
The source of the attack hasn’t be directly confirmed, but GreatFire.org believes that the Chinese government is the most likely entity to have the capability and motivation to smack email users who aren’t using Chinese email services. Like the attack on Google Gmail, the consequence of today’s attack will probably be to drive users to email services that can be more closely monitor by the government.
China has made no bones about its interest in controlling the Internet in its borders and has even moved to play a larger role in Internet management. The country hosted the World Internet Conference late last year, in which it extolled the virtues of Internet regulation to some of the world’s biggest technology companies.