U.S. cyber experts believe they have traced the hacking attack on Google to two educational institutions in China, including one with close ties to the military, the Financial Times reports.
Google has threatened to pull out of China over the hacking, which involved breaching the computers of more than 30 foreign companies and the e-mail accounts of Chinese human rights activists, the BBC reports.
China has steadfastly denied any government involvement in the attacks.
The FT says a freelance security consultant in his 30s wrote the section of the hacking program that was used to slip through a now-repaired security hole in the Internet Explorer web browser to insert spyware into computers.
The FT says analysts believe the creator of the program, which discussed his work in a hacking forum, did not intend for it to be used for "offensive" purposes. But the FT says Chinese officials had special access to the author's work.
Two educational institutions -- Shanghai Jiaotong University and the Lanxiang school, a large vocational training school in Jinan -- have been singled out as the source of the attacks.
The FT quotes U.S. experts as saying that Jiaotong University has one of the best security departments in the country, with former government cyber commanders in residence.
The state-run Xinhua news agency said officials at both schools denied involvement.
(Posted by Doug Stanglin)
Update at 4:51 p.m. ET: The New York Times reported the alleged involvement of the two schools last week, which Chinese netizens have ridiculed. The Chinese dismiss the idea that China is a hotbed of hacking. Still, last week the Wall Street Journal offered a look inside a Chinese hacking network.
by Michael Winter)