“Ever since Google disclosed in January that Internet intruders had stolen information from its computers, the exact nature and extent of the theft has been a closely guarded company secret,” the report said, citing an unnamed person with direct knowledge of the investigation.
That person “now says that the losses included one of Google’s crown jewels, a password system that controls access by millions of users worldwide to almost all of the company’s Web services, including e-mail and business applications,” the Times report said.
Named Gaia for the Greek goddess of the earth, the program “was attacked in a lightning raid taking less than two days last December,” the report cited the person as saying.
The software program is meant to allow users and employees to sign in with a sole password once to operate a range of services.
While “the intruders do not appear to have stolen passwords of Gmail users, ... the company quickly started making significant changes to the security of its networks after the intrusions.
“But the theft leaves open the possibility, however faint, that the intruders may find weaknesses that Google might not even be aware of,” the report cited experts as saying.
“The theft began with an instant message sent to a Google employee in China who was using Microsoft’s Messenger program,” the report added, citing the unnamed person with knowledge of the internal inquiry as saying.
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