A Google spokesperson says that the issue was related to a bug in Google’s caching code, so it’s officially not a hack. Original story below.
This morning, visitors to Google’s corporate site received a bit of a surprise. Instead of viewing the site in English, visitors were redirected to the Chinese version of the site, according to The Guardian.
The news follows Google’s recent, and very public, spat with China — which on Monday saw the search giant finally killing its censored Chinese site, Google.cn. Visitors to the site are now redirected to the uncensored Hong Kong version of the site at Google.com.hk.
The Guardian reports that the redirection occurred on the “Corporate Information – Google Management” page, which lists the company’s current executives, as well as the main corporate site and several other pages under it. The problem recurred even after deleting browser cookies, and viewing the site in a private browsing mode — which makes it clear that the issue wasn’t on the Guardian’s side.
The paper informed Google about the problem, and the company said that it was aware of the issue. As of the time of this post, the redirection hack is no longer in effect.
Earlier this year, it was revealed that a “highly sophisticated and targeted attack” against Google’s infrastructure — which also compromised Gmail accounts belonging to two Chinese political activists — was likely launched by Chinese authorities.
We have no clue who is at fault with this most recent hacking attempt, but its timing is certainly suggestive. I can’t imagine Chinese authorities would be so brazen as to command another hack so soon after Google stopped censoring its searches, particularly since the country’s government is still in trouble with the most recent hacks. But then again, I wouldn’t be entirely surprised if that were the case either.