Google Warning Gmail users on China Spying Attempts
Paul Roberts writes on ThreatPost:
Google is using automated warnings to alert users of its GMAIL messaging service about wide spread attempts to access personal mail accounts from Internet addresses in China. The warnings may indicate wholesale spying by the Chinese government a year after the Google Aurora attacks or simply random attacks. Victims include one leading privacy activist.
Warnings appeared when users logged onto Gmail, encountering a red banner reading "Your account was recently accessed from China," and providing a list of IP addresses used to access the account. Users were then encouraged to change their password immediately. Based on Twitter posts, there doesn't seem to be any pattern to the accounts that were accessed, though one target is a prominent privacy rights activist in the UK who has spoken out against the Chinese government's censorship of its citizens.
A Google spokesman declined to comment on the latest warnings specifically. The company has been issuing similar warnings since March when it introduced features to identify suspicious account activity.
Alexander Hanff of Privacy International in the UK said he saw the warning when he accessed a GMAIL account Thursday morning. Hanff set up the personal account, which he created in 2005 when he operated the Torrent Web site DVDR-Core, an early target of the Motion Picture Association of America in its battle to stop copyright piracy. Hanff said he immediately changed the password, at Google's suggestion, and said the attempts to access his account from China were recent - occurring within the past couple months.
He only rarely accesses the account and does not use it for e-mail related to his work for Privacy International. Still, he said the account is easily discoverable online for those looking to contact him via e-mail, which might have made it a target.