A number of journalists and activists in China have received warnings from Gmail that “state-sponsored attackers may be attempting to compromise your account or computer.”
Google yesterday began notifying users if their Gmail accounts were suspected of being the targets of state-sponsored hacking attempts. “When we have specific intelligence—either directly from users or from our own monitoring efforts—we show clear warning signs and put in place extra roadblocks to thwart these bad actors,” said Google in an announcement posted on its official online security blog.
Google has not specified how it was able to confirm the involvement of “states or groups that are state-sponsored,” because it cannot give details “without giving away information that would be helpful to these bad actors.”
Prominent activists including Zeng Jinyan (曾金燕), wife of dissident and Sakharov Prize winner Hu Jia (胡佳), have reported seeing the message on their Gmail accounts.
Xander Yang, assistant producer of France24’s Beijing Bureau, posted the notification on his micro-blog when he saw the warning in a pink banner on Gmail Wednesday evening.
Journalists working for foreign media weren’t the only ones to have received the warning. Caijing journalist Tan Yifei (谭翊飞) and Venus Cao (曹维斯) , senior marketing manager of the Southern Weekly have also reported seeing the warning.
While Google’s announcement did not name any government or country, the company once blamed Chinese hackers for infiltrating the Gmail accounts of hundreds of prominent figures.
Just days ago, Google announced it would offer users in mainland China a better search experience by warning them if a search term was likely to trigger a connection reset.