06 Jun 2012

Google to Issue Warnings on Suspected State-Sponsored Attacks

Google is taking extra steps to protect its users against “particular attempts by third parties to log into users’ accounts unauthorized” with a particular focus on suspected state-sponsored attacks, according to a blog post by Eric Grosse, VP Security Engineering with Google.

Grosse provides a preview of the actual warning that may appear on users’ screens, specifying that the display of such a warning “does not necessarily mean that your account has been hijacked” but that “you may be a target, of phishing or malware, for example, and that you should take immediate steps to secure your account”. He also dispels any suspicion about these warnings being a sign of compromise on Google’s side or an acknowledgement of a particular attack.

The Google official keeps mum on the actual method that would enable the identification of a state-sponsored attack. “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”, writes Grosse.

This announcement comes shortly after news of President Obama’s ordering an acceleration of the sophisticated computer attacks that are part of a cyber war operation code-named Olympic Games. Olympic Games became a public matter once Stuxnet, a computer worm reputedly developed by the United States and by Israel targeting Iran’s main nuclear enrichment facilities, accidentally escaped the secret labs and spread throughout the Internet. The recent discovery of Flame, one of the scariest cyber espionage tools to date, keeps Internet users on their toes about their computers getting under crossfire in the global cyber warfare.