MICROSOFT'S OUTLOOK email service was the victim of an attack on Saturday courtesy of the Chinese hacking community, according to Chinese web monitor Greatfire.org.
You probably won't have noticed if you use the web interface, but anyone using a mobile or a desktop client with the IMAP and SMTP protocols may have been compromised by a new man-in-the-middle (MITM) attack.
"If our accusation is correct, this new attack signals that the Chinese authorities are intent on further cracking down on communication methods that they cannot readily monitor," said Greatfire in a blog post.
This is nothing new. China has caused, or at least failed to stop, a number of MITM attacks on prominent Western sites in recent months, including Google, Yahoo and Apple's iCloud. Gmail is still inaccessible in most of China.
The Outlook attack is quite sneaky. It manages to throw up a fake security certificate which actually looks pretty kosher, till you notice that it's from the China Internet Network Infomation Centre.
The centre, spookily enough, is governed by the Cyberspace Administration of China which, spookier still, is part of the Chinese government.
China's recent school reports have been peppered with comments along the lines of 'Does not play nicely with others'.
It has a particular disliking for anything Microsoft related and last year saw a number of raids on Microsoft premises in the country, followed by an anti-competition investigation alleging unfair market dominance. This from communist dictatorship.
It was accompanied by a TV news report by the state, obviously, claiming that Windows 8 was effectively a piece of spyware, and an announcement that the whole country planned to move to a government-sanctioned Ubuntu flavour by 2020 in a process dubbed "Dewindowsifying". Yes, really. µ
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