Google Issues Attack Warning

Thursday, October 4, 2012 @ 04:10 PM gHale

Since Google started to alert users to state-sponsored attacks three months ago, it has gathered new intelligence about attack methods and the groups deploying them, officials said.

The company then uses that information to warn “tens of thousands of new users” that they may have been targets, said Mike Wiacek, a manager on Google’s information security team. A new warning went out this past Tuesday.

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Wiacek Google had seen an increase in state-sponsored activity coming from the Middle East. He declined to call out particular countries, but he said the activity was coming from “a slew of different countries” in the region.

Those findings triangulate with recent discoveries by security researchers that Middle Eastern states, including Iran, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, have used spyware to monitor citizens and activists overseas.

Last week, several American banks suffered hack attacks claiming Middle Eastern ties. Security researchers noticed an increase in cyber attacks originating in the region.

“We absolutely have seen more activity from the Middle East, and in particular Iran has been increasingly active as they build up their cyber capabilities,” said George Kurtz, the president of CrowdStrike, a computer security company.

Wiacek said there were several steps Google users, especially those who get its warning, could take to protect themselves, like changing their email and account passwords, enabling Google’s two-step authentication service and running their computer software updates.

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