Google sent out over 12,000 warning to users globally, including about 500 in India, during the three month period from July to September this year, alerting them on “government-backed” phishing attempts against them.
The news comes close on the heels of Facebook-owned WhatsApp disclosing that an Israeli spyware — Pegasus , was used to spy on journalists and human rights activists globally, including 121 people in India.
In a blogpost, Google said its Threat Analysis Group (TAG) works to counter targeted and government-backed hacking against Google and its users. The TAG tracks more than 270 targeted or government-backed groups from more than 50 countries, it added.
“These groups have many goals including intelligence collection, stealing intellectual property, targeting dissidents and activists, destructive cyber attacks, or spreading coordinated disinformation,” it added.
Stating that the company had a long-standing policy to send users warnings if it detects that they are the subject of state-sponsored phishing attempts, Google stated that from July to September 2019, it sent more than 12,000 warnings to users in 149 countries that they were targeted by government-backed attackers. “This is consistent (+/-10%) with the number of warnings sent in the same period of 2018 and 2017,” it said.
As per data shared on the blogpost, about 500 warnings were issued to users in India.
The company added that over 90% of these users were targeted via “credential phishing emails” where attempts are made to obtain the target’s password or other account credentials to hijack their account.