If anyone is keeping count, go on and add another tally under “mishaps between Google and China.” Google officials announced today that hundreds of Gmail accounts were recently hijacked by hackers, primarily victimizing U.S. government officials, Chinese political activists, officials in other Asian countries, military personnel, journalists and others.
Where did this cyber attack come from? According to Google’s blog post, it was traced back to none other than Jinan, one of China’s seven regional command centers for the military.
According to Mila Parkour, a security researcher in Washington who initially alerted Google about the issue, the hackers apparently used a common technique called “phishing” to trick the victims into handing over their passwords.
From theNew York Times:
She highlighted a fake document titled “Draft US-China Joint Statement” that was circulated among people with e-mail accounts at the State Department, the Defense Department, the Defense Intelligence Agency and Gmail. Clicking to download the document directed users instead to a fake Gmail log-in page that captured their password
Forbes made a copy of the login page, which did a great job of copying the original. Could you tell the difference?
This technique is far less sophisticated than last year’s cyber attack on Google, another infiltration that was traced back to China. This invasion led to the company’s decision to base its Chinese search engine in Hong Kong instead of China, heavily severing their relationship.
We’re just scratching at the surface here. Remember back in March when Gmail services in China were constantly disrupted?
How about last year when Chinese hackers attacked a range of American companies, infiltrating their system with the apparent intention of gathering information on human rights activists involved in political campaigns in China? Although we don’t know for certain whether the Chinese government was behind this cyber invasion, it’s very likely that this won’t be the last.
It might be wise to take heed and bolster up the security settings on your Gmail account. It should only take about 10 minutes.
By Esther Kang