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Google and China: the new era of cybercrime

Corporations need to more fully acknowledge the cybercrime threat and step up their defenses. Electronic spying on the US oil and gas industry is the latest example of the problem.

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The rift between the corporate giant Google and the giant country China, with 338 million people online, has revealed a disturbing fact.

Someone, perhaps the Chinese government itself, has been trying not only to read e-mail accounts on Google's Gmail but steal the company's corporate secrets through sophisticated online techniques.

Major corporations are confronting a new era of cybercrime, as The Christian Science Monitor's exclusive story on electronic spying in the oil and gas industry vividly shows. Yet many don't realize the full extent of the threat they face. Worldwide, $1 trillion in intellectual property was stolen online in 2008, according to one study.

The new cyberspies are among the elite of cybercrime, on the prowl for trade secrets and technical know-how. The identities of the attackers can be hard to trace, but many are likely to be governments or their surrogates. (The Chinese government strongly denies any involvement with the Google espionage.) The human spy on the scene is being replaced by cybersleuths at a computer terminal.

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