A press release issued by Google said that some of its members may be experiencing technical difficulties with their accounts but not due to maintenance-related outages. The company said it's been detecting nefarious access requests on American and U.K. profiles from foreign territories, and these instances are supposedly being backed by their local governments.
In response, Google has created a cloud security defense that automatically protects its users, though it would not disclose to Computerworld how or why the system can identify these malicious assaults. Google also won't say how it knows these are actually state-backed attacks.
Emergency response system
Right now Google's priority is account safety, and the data security it has enacted in this case seems to be doing the trick. When a hacker attempts to get into a user account, it will immediately lock down. An email will be issued to the affected account and any that might be connected to it for backup purposes to alert the owner of the attack. Then a banner will appear at the top of any Chrome page or Google-enabled window the authentic user has open, alerting the user to the problem and suggesting steps to enhance data protection.
It's a very good show on Google's part to keep its clients protected, but there are some more concerning factors at play here. Computerworld recently wrote that these attacks have been ongoing for at least a few weeks and are originating from state-backed Israeli hackers. This is similar to the attacks in 2010, RT Network reported, where Google accused China of trying to gain access to user accounts for suspected activists and known journalists within that nation state.
This new attack, however, is one country to another and against accounts that seemingly have nothing to do with each other. Computerworld wasn't able to get any information as to how Google was able to discern the nature of the attacks, but the company wouldn't release any data on its methods, saying it could potentially clue in hackers on how to dodge the data protection parameters.
"Our detailed analysis – as well as victim reports – strongly suggest the involvement of states or groups that are state-sponsored," said Google's vice president Eric Grosse. No other information is currently available, but users should be mindful of taking their own precautions to enhance private data security as long as they use public document and sharing networks.