Google said this week that hackers had launched a phishing attack against users of it Gmail e-mail service in an attempt to fool people into giving up their passwords. The search engine giant said it believed the scheme originate from Jinan, China. However, the Chinese government denied having anything to do with the attacks. The FBI is said to be investigating the incident

Google says the phishing scheme appears to have targeted the personal Gmail accounts of hundreds of users including senior U.S. government officials, Chinese political activists, South Korean officials, military personnel and journalists. The company said its internal systems were not affected.

“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," the company said in a statement. Gmail enables users to automatically forward their emails and to give others access to their accounts.

Google said it detected and disrupted the attack, notified victims, and secured email accounts.

But as cloud and other web-based applications continue to gain in popularity, what steps can people take to protect their information and identities?

 Google offered the following advice on its web site for making Gmail more secure:

  • Enable two-step verification, a Gmail feature that uses a phone and second password on sign-in.
  • Use a strong pasword.  Google also reminds people that it will never ask for an email password.  Check Gmail settings for suspicious forwarding addresses and delegated accounts.  
  • Watch for the red warnings about suspicious account activity, which appear on top of Gmail inboxes.
  • Review the security features offered by the Chrome browswer. 
  • Be mindful of other security recommendations on how to keep applications safe.

 
 

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