Hackers backed by foreign states attacked 12,000 Google users

Government-supported hackers tried to steal 12,000 Google credentials in 2019

Google’s Threat Analysis Group (TAG) revealed in a report that they distributed more than 12,000 warnings to users in nearly 150 countries that include the United States of America. The recipients were notified that they have been subject of state-sponsored phishing attempts. The foreign government-supported hackers have tried to obtain the Google login credentials of thousands of people using “credential phishing emails.” Those attacks generally have one goal – to hijack the victim’s Gmail account by tricking users into thinking that they are on a Google website, and their password needs to be changed.

The emails usually contain links that forward the potential victims to a spoofed website – a webpage that has the appearance of the real one. The fake website encourages the victims to update their login details to increase security. However, instead of changing passwords, people end up sharing their login details and unintentionally end up giving up access to their accounts. Very often, victims do not even know that they are being hacked as the hacker does not use the hacked account to cause immediate trouble but monitors it until they decide the best way to strike.

Possible strikes would include:

  • Finding a way to access your internet banking or even bitcoin wallet
  • Looking for materials that could be used for blackmailing
  • Stealing trade secrets
  • A first step towards overtaking your identity

Nowadays hackers find it particularly easy to commit fraud after they hijack an account. Email inboxes are often filled with personal information such as passport scans, birth certificates, etc. Google’s Threat Analysis group also revealed in the report that they are actively battling groups of hackers backed by foreign governments who are working on spreading disinformation.

TAG said that there are certain groups of people who are considered high-risk. Such userbase consists of journalists, human rights activists, and people involved in shaping the political landscape in their home countries. TAG strongly encourages people with such backgrounds to always have additional layers of security on all their devices.

Knowing that government-sponsored hackers have targeted thousands of people might sound scary, but the report revealed that the number hadn’t changed much when compared with the data from the last few years. The attacks have been going on for years! According to the information presented in the report, Google stated that the number of alerts sent by them this year was similar to the number they observed in the same period of 2018 and 2017.

Having the most reliable protection is crucial not only for high-risk people wanting to maintain the highest level of security possible but also for everyone not ready to become a victim of a cybercrime.

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