- The Washington Times - Monday, March 30, 2020

Google’s threat analysis group has spotted an increasing number of cyberattackers posing as journalists in 2020.

Such attackers often take aim at foreign policy experts as part of an effort to obtain their research, access to the experts’ organizations, and experts’ connection to other researchers to carry out more attacks, according to Google security engineering manager Toni Gidwani.

“Upon reviewing phishing attempts since the beginning of this year, we’ve seen a rising number of attackers, including those from Iran and North Korea, impersonating news outlets or journalists,” Ms. Gidwani wrote. “For example, attackers impersonate a journalist to seed false stories with other reporters to spread disinformation. In other cases, attackers will send several benign emails to build a rapport with a journalist or foreign policy expert before sending a malicious attachment in a follow-up email.”

Information released last week from Google’s threat analysis group, which aims to counter government-backed hacks against Google and the company’s users, showed the attackers are growing persistent.

One in five accounts targeted for an attack were targeted multiple times, according to Google. Among the groups identified by Google as consistently attacked by government-backed cybercriminals were political rivals, government officials, journalists, dissidents and activists.

Google’s threat analysis group said it discovered “zero-day vulnerabilities,” meaning security flaws with no known solution, on many platforms including Android, Chrome, iOS, Internet Explorer and Windows.

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