Google’s discovery Wednesday that Chinese hackers tried to steal the passwords of senior U.S. government officials as well as South Korean officials, Chinese activists and journalists has prompted a cyber-security organization to urge Gmail users to take steps to protect the privacy of their messages.
SecurityOrb.com, an information security and privacy awareness organization, is urging Gmail users to take safety precautions such as changing their password, using a strong password, and possibly even using Google’s two-step verification feature for Gmail.
The organization also notes that users can verify the location from where their Gmail accounts are accessed by checking the “last account activity” display at the bottom of the page.
The work of the hackers was discovered by Google employees. As the company stated on its blog, “The hackers tried to use a phishing scheme to get the passwords of victims so they could monitor their email correspondence.” Google security technicians were able to stop the hacking campaign and secure the accounts of those targeted except for a Chinese human-rights activist, Cui Weiping, whose email contents were accessed. Google said it notified the FBI of that matter.
This is the second time allegations of China hacking Google has come about. Back in January of 2010, a cyber-attack that allegedly originated from China occurred which prompted the National Security Agency to assist in the investigation.
In a statement, Google said, “Unlike a series of cyberattacks from China last year, the goal this time was not its own central systems, but the individual accounts of users.”
The Google hacking occurrence comes a day after the Pentagon declared cyber attack on U.S. interest from another country could constitute as an act of war. This may be due to the constant cyberattacks the U.S. government and private companies have been facing from countries like China and Russia to name a few.