Since the early days of Google-when it was just starting out as a dedicated search engine-today is a robust company with a large lineup of products and services. Within its own system, the search leader has designed a system capable of identifying when malicious activity strikes at targeted users.
These attacks constitute an attempt by a third party to access information from a registered user (journalist or very important person) on Google’s platform. The security warnings under Google’s email service GMAIL are labeled as “state-sponsored attacks”, and do not necessarily mean that the account has been compromised. It just means there is an attempt in progress to hijack the account, which was orchestrated by a trained or experiences group of hackers.
The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) provides a comprehensive and in depth analysis on these types of attacks and what to do to counter them in event of experiencing an intrusion.
According to the CPJ “These attacks may be orchestrated by states, but the techniques are similar to those used by petty Internet criminals, who attempt to take control of Internet user’s computers via mass fraudulent emails (phishing) or constructing fake websites masquerading as legitimate.”
What is causing confusion about this sort of message is how it’s recognized as a “state-sponsored” attack, and the search giant does not disclose how the system recognizes it or even where it came from.
The blog post published by Eric Grosse, the VP of Security and Engineering for Google was vague in his assertion of the nature of these attacks, which was illustrated earlier for the month of june.
“You might ask how we know this activity is state-sponsored. We can’t go into the details without giving away information that would be helpful to these bad actors, but our detailed analysis—as well as victim reports—strongly suggest the involvement of states or groups that are state-sponsored,” said Grosse.
The CPJ emphasizes some strategies that journalists should adopt to protect their data in order to keep intruders out. This can certainly be useful for ordinary users for any platform.
The Journalist Security Guide put together by the CPJ is a helpful resource to hover over if you happen to receive this specific message. For whatever the reason you have received this warning, the information you have or who you are has motivated an outside party to take something from you.
Everything we do today revolves around digital devices. The convenience, simplicity and sophistication means more of our private lives is stored online increasingly, which means it is visible and in the hands of any provider. Companies like Google have the obligation to safeguard our privacy, but that is not always the case.