Google Exposes Gmail Phishing Scam from China
Google finds and halts new cyber-attacks allegedly originating from China, this time from phishing scams directed at hundreds of Gmail users in the United States and Asia.Google uncovered a phishing scam that duped senior U.S. government officials, Chinese political activists, officials in several Asian countries and media members into giving up their Gmail passwords so that an attacker could read and forward their email messages.
Google, which detected the scam through its Web-based security systems and other reports, disrupted the attack. The attack affected hundreds of users and appeared to hail from Jinan, China.
Jinan, China is home to one of the People's Liberation Army's technical reconnaissance bureaus, or China's equivalent of the National Security Agency in the United States. Hong Lei, spokesman for China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, denied his government had anything to do with the attacks, calling them "fabrication out of thin air" and "unacceptable." "Chinese government is firmly opposed to any cyber-criminal activity, including hacking . . . [and] is ready to cooperate with the international community to combat against it," Lei said, according to the Washington Post. Google recommends Gmail users can improve security by using a stronger password; entering their password into a proper sign-in promot; checking Gmail setting for suspicious forwarding addresses; and enabling 2-step verification, which uses a phone and second password on sign-in. Grosse, who outlined those tips and more, said this approach protected some accounts from this attack. Meanwhile, both the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Department of Homeland Security said they were working with Google to investigate the attacks, according to the Wall Street Journal. This is the second major attack on Gmail that appeared to hail from China in the last year and a half. Google in January 2010 revealed that it discovered a breach in Google's infrastructure that resulted in the theft of intellectual property from Google. So serious was the breach that Google never revealed what information was taken. Google ceased censoring results on Google.cn and ultimately created a workaround to direct users searching at that portal to Google.hk. The company never pulled out of China, as it suggested it might, though its search market share tumbled as Baidu lengthened its lead.