Search engine giant Google has warned the users of its mail delivery system Gmail to be vigilant in terms of hacking attacks, as a number of what it calls “state-sponsored” attacks have taken place throughout the world.
“We are constantly on the lookout for malicious activity on our systems, in particular attempts by third parties to log into users’ accounts unauthorized,” wrote Eric Grosse, VP Security Engineering on Google’s blog.
He also explained that Gmail will be taking extra precautions to safeguard its users from such attacks.
“Today, we’re taking that a step further for a subset of our users, who we believe may be the target of state-sponsored attacks. If you see a warning (in Gmail) it does not necessarily mean that your account has been hijacked. It just means that we believe you may be a target, of phishing or malware for example, and that you should take immediate steps to secure your account.”
Grosse said that there are a couple of steps that users can take immediately if they suspect anything out of the ordinary.
“Create a unique password that has a good mix of capital and lowercase letters, as well punctuation marks and numbers; enable 2-step verification as additional security; and update your browser, operating system, plugins, and document editors. Attackers often send links to fake sign-in pages to try to steal your password, so be careful about where you sign in to Google and look for https://accounts.google.com/ in your browser bar,” he advised.
Gross did not divulge how Google knew that hacking attacks were state-sponsored. “You might ask how we know this activity is state-sponsored. We can’t go into the details without giving away information that would be helpful to these bad actors, but our detailed analysis—as well as victim reports—strongly suggest the involvement of states or groups that are state-sponsored.”
“We believe it is our duty to be proactive in notifying users about attacks or potential attacks so that they can take action to protect their information,” he concluded.
Charlie Fripp – Consumer Tech editor