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Google declined to provide details of the attack. Its chief legal officer, David Drummond, said in a statement in January that the company in December identified a “sophisticated and targeted attack on our corporate infrastructure originating from China that resulted in the theft of intellectual property from Google.”

On Monday, Mr. Drummond stated in an update that the attackers broke into e-mail accounts of Chinese human rights activists through “phishing scams or malware.” Phishing is used to obtain access through fraudulent e-mails, and malware is software that is used to gain unauthorized access or control of computers and networks.