Coca-Cola has its super secret cola recipe, Dolby has its closely-guarded noise reduction circuit design, and Google has… what is it that Google has? For Microsoft, Google or any other software business, the thousands of lines of code, and the philosophy that informs them are their stock-in-trade, their capital. Google has had the Chinese authorities hack into its Gmail accounts recently; if they, or any recreational hacker were to succeed in getting into their system, and to sell their loot to the highest bidder outside, it would quickly bring Google’s search business to its knees. Or if it were the Chinese authorities doing it, or a competing search engine,they could ever-so-slightly modify Google’s codes, to make it less effective, or spy on everything Google did, and lend themselves a better advantage.

This is no longer just a doomsday scenario passed out in a Hollywood movie. This is exactly what Google declares China did earlier this month to it. Google announced that some of its copyrighted code had been stolen, and the code owned by several other companies as well. Google, with help from VeriSign iDefense, when it investigated these attacks, did not even know if it has its original code anymore. They believe that China’s government has possibly inserted alterations in Google’s core coding that will help them spy on Chinese citizens using Google to search for restricted information in China. Why, in Greece, five years ago, hackers inserted alterations to Vodafone’s code, so that they could listen in on conversations conducted by the country’s political and military leaders.

Just as Microsoft has been a favored target for years, Google and Adobe are in the cross hairs today. Adobe’s software is reputed in particular to be deeply flawed security wise; since it enjoys 95% market penetration with one or another of its products, anti virus experts have their attention trained on Adobe now. It is becoming obvious too, that China, a country that first rose to prominence for its cheap knockoffs of reputed branded goods, still retains its knack for counterfeiting. Routers by Cisco, for example, are legally required to include firmware that will allow the government to obtain a backdoor into your information, for criminal investigations purposes. China could easily manufacture counterfeit Cisco routers, that will help the Chinese government look in for more information than a democratically-elected government would ever be allowed to. As it happens, the biggest risk that software corporations face still lies in the way employees can get careless, and open tainted spam when they are at work, at a company terminal.