Chinese spy agency behind Google cyber attack, report claims

Information Week reports that in a blog post heard around the world, though muffled in China’s state-controlled media, Google said on Tuesday that it and at least 20 other companies in the the internet, finance, technology, media and chemical sectors had been targeted in a sophisticated cyber attack in December.  Due to this attack, which resulted in the theft of unspecified intellectual property, and a hostile business climate, Google said it would stop censoring Google.cn, a decision which could lead to the closure of the company’s Chinese search service. Whether that happens will depend on how the Chinese government reacts.  U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on Tuesday expressed concern about Google’s claims and asked the Chinese government for an explanation. She said she intended to give a speech next week “on the centrality of Internet freedom in the 21st century.”  A report issued on Tuesday by iDefense, a computer security company owned by Verisign, states that 33 other companies were targeted in the attack. It also says that those responsible were working either directly on on behalf of official intelligence entities of the People’s Republic of China.  “Two independent, anonymous iDefense sources in the defense contracting and intelligence consulting community confirmed that both the source IPs and drop server of the attack correspond to a single foreign entity consisting either of agents of the Chinese state or proxies thereof,” the report says…

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France plans its own rival to Google Books

France’s culture minister on Jan. 12 unveiled a plan to develop what he hopes will prove a uniquely Gallic competitor to Google Books, reports the Associated Press. Frederic Mitterrand didn’t rule out cooperating with the ubiquitous, U.S.-based search engine and said France was prepared to share files with Google under certain conditions. But he made clear that the company would have to play by France’s rules. Mitterrand said an existing French database of scanned documents, called Gallica, would serve as the foundation for a vast, new internet portal for French letters. Run by France’s national library, Gallica has fewer than a million items in its database and is mainly accessed by professionals, not the public. France aims to build up Gallica’s collection by cooperating with French publishers and private companies–including, perhaps, Google–on the onerous task of scanning and cataloging books. The Google Books project already has scanned and cataloged more that 10 million books as part of its project to create an online library accessible to anyone with an internet connection. Copyright issues have proved a thorn in Google Books’ side, however, with many authors and publishers worldwide contending its digital library violates copyrights. On the French site, publishers would be able to decide how much of books under copyright would be accessible online, and links would send users to online retailers. Deals eventually could be struck to swap books in French that have already been scanned by Google Books for books scanned in France, creators of the plan said…

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Google Maps inspire creativity

A new technology from internet search behemoth Google Inc. is making innovators out of some educators, who have begun envisioning practical uses for the company’s new Google Maps feature to make previously unavailable graphic representations of everything from school district bus routes to geography lessons.

Educators aren’t the only ones taking advantage of the technology. Others also have discovered how to tinker with the search engine’s mapping service to graphically illustrate vital information that might otherwise be ignored, overlooked, or not perceived as clearly.

“This is pretty interesting for organizations, such as school districts, that have maps that provide boundary information and such,” wrote Tim Lauer, principal of Meriwether Lewis Elementary School in Portland, Ore., and a frequent contributor to eSchool News Online’s Ed-Tech Insider, a blog for educators and technology advocates. “Imagine a district map that showed bus stops combined with Google content. Families could punch in their home address and easily find the closest stop.” …Read More