The Cable

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Google: Cable guy target of state-sponsored cyber attack

Late Friday afternoon, Google notified your humble Cable guy that they suspect he is the target of state-sponsored attacks on his Gmail account. "Warning: We believe state-sponsored attackers may be attempting to compromise your account or computer," read a banner at the top of the screen. "Protect yourself now." We might have been asking for ...

627275_hacked2.jpg
627275_hacked2.jpg

Late Friday afternoon, Google notified your humble Cable guy that they suspect he is the target of state-sponsored attacks on his Gmail account.

"Warning: We believe state-sponsored attackers may be attempting to compromise your account or computer," read a banner at the top of the screen. "Protect yourself now."

Late Friday afternoon, Google notified your humble Cable guy that they suspect he is the target of state-sponsored attacks on his Gmail account.

"Warning: We believe state-sponsored attackers may be attempting to compromise your account or computer," read a banner at the top of the screen. "Protect yourself now."

We might have been asking for it, considering that The Cable first reported the fact that Google would begin warning users if their accounts were targeted by foreign governments and their proxies, as part of Google’s ongoing effort to protect users from cyber repression and harassment.

It’s probably a coincidence that the state-sponsored attack on The Cable’s Gmail account came only days after we heavily criticized the Chinese government for not showing up at a major defense conference in Singapore last weekend, even prodding Defense Secretary Leon Panetta to comment on it.

Either way, we have taken undisclosed steps to tighten e-mail security here at The Cable. Here are some excerpts of the message we received after we clicked through the warning to Google’s help page:

Your account could be at risk of state-sponsored attacks

About the security threat

If you were directed to this page from a warning displayed above your Gmail inbox, we believe that state-sponsored attackers may be attempting to compromise your account or computer.

It’s likely that you received emails containing malicious attachments, links to malicious software downloads, or links to fake websites that are designed to steal your passwords or other personal information. For example, attackers have often been known to send PDF files, Office documents, or RAR files with malicious contents. We strongly recommend that you avoid clicking links or attachments in suspicious messages.

It’s important to note that Google’s internal systems are not compromised and that this message does not refer to one specific campaign. We routinely receive abuse reports from users, as well as from our internal systems that monitor for suspicious login attempts and other activity. To help defend the integrity of these systems, we aren’t sharing more details about these attacks. However, after carefully studying the abuse reports, we decided to show you the message in Gmail to help warn and protect you from potential attacks.

Take that Dan Drezner….

Josh Rogin covers national security and foreign policy and writes the daily Web column The Cable. His column appears bi-weekly in the print edition of The Washington Post. He can be reached for comments or tips at josh.rogin@foreignpolicy.com.

Previously, Josh covered defense and foreign policy as a staff writer for Congressional Quarterly, writing extensively on Iraq, Afghanistan, Guantánamo Bay, U.S.-Asia relations, defense budgeting and appropriations, and the defense lobbying and contracting industries. Prior to that, he covered military modernization, cyber warfare, space, and missile defense for Federal Computer Week Magazine. He has also served as Pentagon Staff Reporter for the Asahi Shimbun, Japan's leading daily newspaper, in its Washington, D.C., bureau, where he reported on U.S.-Japan relations, Chinese military modernization, the North Korean nuclear crisis, and more.

A graduate of George Washington University's Elliott School of International Affairs, Josh lived in Yokohama, Japan, and studied at Tokyo's Sophia University. He speaks conversational Japanese and has reported from the region. He has also worked at the House International Relations Committee, the Embassy of Japan, and the Brookings Institution.

Josh's reporting has been featured on CNN, MSNBC, C-Span, CBS, ABC, NPR, WTOP, and several other outlets. He was a 2008-2009 National Press Foundation's Paul Miller Washington Reporting Fellow, 2009 military reporting fellow with the Knight Center for Specialized Journalism and the 2011 recipient of the InterAction Award for Excellence in International Reporting. He hails from Philadelphia and lives in Washington, D.C. Twitter: @joshrogin

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