Déjà vu–Gmail attacked by hacktivists… again

In January 2010, Google was the victim of a cyber attack.  Google employees were sent spear phishing attacks and the attackers were able to make off with some important code.  This was about a year and a half ago.  At the time, there was speculation that the hackers were targeting Chinese dissidents and that the break ins were an attempt to compromise that information.

Well, fast forward to today and it has occurred again.  From Fox News:

Chinese hackers have infiltrated Google's Gmail system and broken into hundreds of accounts, including those of senior government officials, military personnel and political activists, the company said.

Google says all victims have been notified and their accounts have been secured.

"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."

[tzink – this next part is interesting]

The news comes a day after the Pentagon concluded that computer sabotage from another country could constitute an act of war -- news that opened the door for the first time to a traditional military response to a cyberattack.

These attacks don’t appear to be as sophisticated as the ones that hit last year.  But it is similar: both times they used spear phishing attacks, and both times they were trying to spy on some users.

While it is true that the Pentagon concluded that computer sabotage could constitute an act of war, the Pentagon’s conclusion also says a military response would be triggered by the amount of damage – actual or attempted – caused by the attack.

Hacking incidents and Advanced Persistent Threats are very fast turning into 2011’s theme.  It makes me wonder where have all the spammers gone?

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