Google Warns High Profile Journalists And Professors Their Gmail Accounts Fell Victim To State Sponsored Hacking
Earlier this year, we reported on Google's new feature that informs users if they've become the target of state-sponsored attackers, so as to help you better protect yourself via whatever means you have available. We can't imagine what it's like to receive a notification like this, but it can't be a great feeling.
Now, we're reminded that this functionality exists, as a slew of journalists and professors have been warmed that "Government-backed attackers" have tried to steal their passwords. The full notification is below:
Julia Loffe, a writer at Politco and Highline, first posted to Twitter about this message, and shortly after, other folks began chiming in that they've also received the message. Other notable persons affected include The New York Times' Paul Krugman, GQ's Keith Olbermann, and former Obama speechwriter Jon Lovett.
And here we are. pic.twitter.com/Vv4cjLI5gJ— Julia Ioffe (@juliaioffe) November 23, 2016
"Government-based" attempt to hack my email (and Krugman's). Lines up with Trump's demonizing of dissent. Vol.3: pic.twitter.com/NPdpvS7RzK— Keith Olbermann (@KeithOlbermann) November 23, 2016
A number of liberal writers, me included, seem to have gotten this notice yesterday. https://t.co/OROGP1qbDF— Paul Krugman (@paulkrugman) November 23, 2016
While it's impossible for Google to guarantee protection from the government, this warning does immediately tip-off affected users so that they can take immediate action -- whether it be updating their password or purging the account. In the notification, Google recommends setting up a security key or password alert. Since the attack seems to be entirely based around stealing a password, it'd probably be a good idea to change it very frequently after receiving this message, unless you decide to purge the entire account (which isn't something Google recommends).
Google says that less than 0.1% of all Gmail users receive a message like this, but that's admittedly much higher than most of us would expect. If it were exactly 0.1% of all Gmail users, that'd imply at least 1/1,000 receive this message. Considering that there are millions of Gmail users, that is a lot of government tomfoolery.