The controversy surrounding last year's cyber attacks against Google reached a new level recently. One of the analysts investigating the attacks has been accused of leaking information. Keep reading for the details.
A cyber attack aimed at Google and other entities back in December of 2009 prompted the United States government to look further into the matter. The attacks originated in China and seemed to center on several activist groups that had dissenting points of view from the Chinese government. Many human rights activists had their Gmail accounts hacked, and this led to a spat between Google and China, which ended with Google withdrawing its search engine services from the country. Although the Chinese government denied having any participation in the attacks against Google and others, some suspicion still remains.
A new controversy has emerged, this time concerning the U.S. government's investigation into the attacks. Bradley Manning, an intelligence analyst with the U.S. Army, has been accused of leaking sensitive information about the investigation to outside sources. Recently, Manning leaked classified details of the Google/China investigation as well as its special code name to a reputed hacker, Adrian Lamo. Lamo decided to turn Manning in because he said he believed that the analyst had gone too far in revealing sensitive information that could jeopardize national security.
After passing along information of the security breach, Lamo had to meet with members of the Diplomatic Security Service and agents from the Army's counterintelligence and criminal units to disclose the specifics of what Manning had revealed concerning the Google investigation. Lamo apparently had several conversations with Manning via email and instant messenger regarding the subject, and investigators forced him to turn over a hard drive, a laptop, as well as encrypted emails that detailed the exchanges.
As for Manning, he was arrested after Lamo's contact with authorities and still remains in custody in Kuwait. Among the charges he stands to face are those for unauthorized disclosure of classified information as well as espionage, both of which offer stiff sentences. Despite the seriousness of his actions and the sensitivity of the information he leaked, computer hacker Lamo expressed that he hoped Manning would not be severely punished. Considering the possible consequences of such actions, it is highly unlikely that the authorities will take Lamo's opinion on the matter of sentencing into consideration, especially given Manning's past.
This is not the first time Manning has used his position and access to sensitive information in a reckless manner. According to Lamo, Manning took credit for supplying a whistleblower website known as Wikileaks with content in the past. More specifically, Manning gave the site a classified video that showed a military helicopter in Iraq killing civilians and journalists back in 2007. Manning also confessed to sending Wikileaks a 2009 video taken in Afghanistan where 200 civilians perished in an attack. He also illegally leaked 2,6000 U.S. diplomatic cables. These previous leaks were used by Manning as a resume of sorts to present to Lamo before giving him the details on the Google investigation.
The news of such leaks by an individual within the U.S. Army is quite unsettling and a definite danger to national security that puts the lives of many at risk. As such is the case, Manning will likely receive harsh punishment for his actions when sentencing is handed down.
For more on this story, visit: http://news.cnet.com/8301-27080_3-20007549-245.html
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