Google risks kicking the hornet’s nest in China with claims a recent cyber attack on users of its G-mail service originated in Jinan.
The search giant said a phishing attack had attempted to glean the passwords of US government officials, Chinese political activists, military staff and journalists, which would have allowed the hackers to monitor messages and control features including auto forwarding and approved access for third parties.
Although the attack was halted, Google advises users to enable a two-step authentication feature and use a unique password.
Eric Grosse, engineering director of Google’s security team, said the firm’s internal systems weren’t affected by the attack, and that it had notified the users involved. The firm has also informed “relevant government authorities,” he states.
It is the second time this year that Google has claimed interference with G-mail by sources in China. In March it accused the state of disrupting access to the service following a string of reports of outages from users.
The incident was the latest in a series of spats between the firm and the state that saw whistle blowing website Wikileaks reveal China’s Politburo orchestrated an attack on Google’s local servers that ultimately led the search firm to quit the country.