Chinese hackers accessed hundreds of private Gmail accounts in attempt to spy on conversations among journalists, military officials, and political dissidents. Google told reporters that the hacking effort has been traced to Jinan, China.
It's nothing like what happened last year, when Chinese hackers violated the company's central system in an effort to access Gmail accounts of Chinese activists in the United States. Instead, the hackers used phishing to dupe individual Gmail users into providing their passwords.
The San Jose Mercury News reports that this time the hackers used bits of real information to trick users into sharing personal information. For instance, U.S. government officials received messages in their personal Gmail accounts that appeared to be from close associates. The e-mails had bogus downloads and links to a fake Gmail login page where cybercrooks could then life information like passwords.
Google says these attacks -- which are being investigated by the FBI -- could have started more than a year ago. In the company's blog, Google officials say they have notified all of the victims and secured their accounts.
"It's important to stress that our internal systems have not been
affected -- these account hijackings were not the result of a security
problem with Gmail itself, but we believe that being open about these
security issues helps users better protect their information online," the company writes.
Google said it was not blaming the Chinese government. "We can't say for sure who is responsible," a company spokesman told the Merc.
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