Google Warns Users of Recent State-sponsored Attacks

Over the last few days, Google has delivered a batch of warnings about potential government-backed attacks against numerous journalists, academics and activists. Many of the recipients have announced their personal warnings on Twitter. There are some differences in the wording of some of the warnings, but Google has confirmed that the Twitter postings appear to be authentic.

Google has been issuing such warnings since 2012. At first they were simple text alerts across the top of the recipients’ Gmail page. In March of this year it started to use the larger more noticeable banners that are now appearing. The warnings do not indicate that an account has actually been compromised; only that Google researchers have seen indications of an attempt against the account.

The warnings are also not timely. The attack indicators were likely noticed up to a month earlier. Google does not issue immediate warnings for fear that this will allow attackers to determine the method of discovery. This time lapse has led to certain assumptions that the attackers are likely to be the Russian actors, possibly APT28 or APT29, that were linked to attacks against the Democrats, supposedly to influence the election. (Last month, Russian hackers were also linked with targeting journalists investigating the MH17 crash.)

Source: Security Week