Feds investigate alleged attacks on Gmail accounts

The U.S. government is looking into reports that hackers tried to access Gmail accounts of federal officials, journalists, and political activists.

The U.S. government is investigating reports from Google that hackers attempted to break into the Gmail accounts of senior government officials but at this point doesn't believe any accounts were actually breached.

"Speaking on behalf of the U.S. government, we're looking into these reports and seeking to gather the facts," Caitlin Hayden, deputy spokesperson for the National Security Council, told CNET today. "We have no reason to believe that any official U.S. government e-mail accounts were accessed."

The FBI is taking the lead on the investigation, according to Hayden, "as part of an interagency mechanism that comes together to focus on these types of incidents when they occur."

An FBI representative confirmed the investigation to CNET today. "We are aware of Google's announcement regarding attempts to obtain passwords and gain access to the accounts. We are working with Google and other [U.S. government] agencies to review this matter further to identify the origin of this campaign and to see what information may have been compromised," the FBI said in an e-mail.

Google revealed yesterday that it had "detected and disrupted" a plan to break into hundreds of Gmail accounts through a series of phishing attacks. The targets of the attacks included top government officials from the U.S. and several Asian countries, along with journalists, political activists, and military personnel. The attackers apparently tried to use stolen passwords to access and change certain settings on the accounts.

In a familiar scenario, Google has implicated China as the source of the incident, saying that the attacks seemed to originate from Jinan, China. But the search giant didn't go so far as to blame the Chinese government directly. China has denied any involvement in the attacks, according to BBC News, saying that "blaming these misdeeds on China is unacceptable."

Correction, 10:56 a.m.: This story initially misidentified the organization Caitlin Hayden represents. She works for the National Security Council.

About the author

Journalist, software trainer, and Web developer Lance Whitney writes columns and reviews for CNET, Computer Shopper, Microsoft TechNet, and other technology sites. His first book, "Windows 8 Five Minutes at a Time," was published by Wiley & Sons in November 2012.

 

Join the discussion

Conversation powered by Livefyre

Don't Miss
Hot Products
Trending on CNET

HOT ON CNET

Delete your photos by mistake?

Whether you've deleted everything on your memory card or there's been a data corruption, here's a way to recover those photos.