Chinese hackers 'phish' Gmail account holders' info, company confirms

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This is not good news: hackers in China have attempted — and apparently succeeded — in “phishing” account information and passwords from holders of Gmail accounts, including politicians, “Chinese political activists,” military personnel, journalists and other high-profile individuals.

Google Inc. today posted a blog item in which the firm concedes: “we recently uncovered a campaign to collect user passwords, likely through phishing. This campaign, which appears to originate from Jinan, China, affected what seem to be the personal Gmail accounts of hundreds of users including, among others, senior U.S. government officials, Chinese political activists, officials in several Asian countries (predominantly South Korea), military personnel and journalists.”

The entry on the “Official Google Blog” notes, “The goal of this effort seems to have been to monitor the contents of these users’ emails, with the perpetrators apparently using stolen passwords to change peoples’ forwarding and delegation settings. (Gmail enables you to forward your emails automatically, as well as grant others access to your account.)

“Google detected and has disrupted this campaign to take users’ passwords and monitor their emails. We have notified victims and secured their accounts. In addition, we have notified relevant government authorities,” the entry said.

The posting then goes into details of a variety of steps Gmail and Google users can take to stay safe online. It’s well worth reading, and the firm’s concluding advice is exceptionally worth heeding, in my view: “Please spend ten minutes today taking steps to improve your online security so that you can experience all that the Internet offers—while also protecting your data.”

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M. Kellner

Mark A. Kellner is a religion columnist.

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