• United States



by Dave Gradijan

Google Fixes Security Vulnerability in Chinese Software Tool

Apr 08, 20072 mins
Build AutomationCSO and CISO

Google has closed a security hole in a recently released Chinese-input software tool that lies at the heart of a dispute with Chinese Internet company

“We had found this problem and have solved it during the product upgrade on Friday,” wrote Google spokeswoman Cui Jin in an e-mail response to questions.

On Friday, Chinese security company Rising said Google’s Pinyin Input Method Editor (IME) presented a serious security threat to Microsoft Windows Vista users. The company warned users not to download and install the software, which lets users type Chinese characters by entering their Pinyin romanization equivalents, saying hackers could exploit a flaw to take control of a user’s computer.

Rising said Microsoft also bears responsibility for the vulnerability, noting that software released by other companies could re-create the same vulnerability.

The Rising announcement came amid questions over the origins of a dictionary used with Google’s Pinyin IME. Early versions of the software bore a striking resemblance to Chinese Internet company’s Sogou Pinyin IME, which draws on a database of popular search queries from the company’s Sogou search engine to suggest characters that match the Pinyin users type.

The similarities between the two dictionaries led Sohu to send a letter to Google on Friday, giving the company until today to stop downloads of the software, issue an apology and discuss compensation. A senior Sohu executive said the company had not made its dictionary available for use or licensed other companies to use it.

Cui did not respond to questions about Sohu’s letter.

However, Google acknowledged on Sunday that a “non-Google database” had been used to develop its IME software, but stopped short of saying where the database came from. The company also released a further update of the software on Sunday that relies on a new dictionary.

“The new dictionary is now based on tens of thousands of entries Google’s enormous search database has accumulated over the years,” Cui wrote.

-Sumner Lemon, IDG News Service