First Sony, then Lockheed Martin and Public Broadcasting Service (PBS), and now none other than Google.... Hackers are spreading their malicious nets every nook and corner.
Search giant Google revealed Wednesday it has disrupted a hacking effort that appears to be originated from China, targeting Gmail accounts of various people, including senior U.S. government officials.
Through the strength of our cloud-based security and abuse detection systems, we recently uncovered a campaign to collect user passwords, likely through phishing. This campaign, which appears to originate from Jinan, China, affected what seem to be the personal Gmail accounts of hundreds of users including, among others, senior U.S. government officials, Chinese political activists, officials in several Asian countries (predominantly South Korea), military personnel and journalists, Eric Grosse, Engineering Director, Google Security Team wrote in a blog post.
Google said the hackers were trying to monitor the contents of these users' emails, with the perpetrators apparently using stolen passwords to change peoples' forwarding and delegation settings.
However, Google detected this and has disrupted the effort and have notified victims and secured their accounts. In addition, the company has also notified relevant government authorities.
Meanwhile, California-based Google was quick to note that its internal systems are safe.
It's important to stress that our internal systems have not been affected-these account hijackings were not the result of a security problem with Gmail itself, the blog post added.
Hacking groups have really become a big headache not only for governments but also for corporate giants as well as media organizations. Only days before the website of Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) has been hacked and hackers have posted a hoax story claiming that rapper Tupac Shakur was still alive and living in New Zealand. Shakur was gunned down in 1996 in Las Vegas.
Sony's PlayStation Network was hacked in April and put offline due to a compromise of personal information as a result of an illegal intrusion. At the time of the intrusion, the network consisted of approximately 130 servers, 50 software programs and 77 million registered accounts. The attack is expected to cost Sony more than $170 million.
The lack of cyber security has emboldened serious institutional cyber criminals to hack companies like Lockheed Martin.
Lockheed Martin, one of the biggest defense contractors, detected a significant and tenacious attack on its information systems network on May 21. However, the company said no customer, program or employee personal data has been compromised.
In December 2010, groups like Anonymous attacked the websites of MasterCard and Paypal in retaliation of their decision to freeze the account of WikiLeaks.
Nevertheless, the recent hack attacks show the pervasive lack of preparedness against cyber attacks, so much so that a loosely-organized group of enthusiasts can deface and embarrass the largest corporations and media organizations in the world.