Google says it has stopped a phishing email with about a million users.
Those who clicked on the link and followed the instructions, risking allowing hackers access to their email accounts.
Google said it had stopped the attack “for about an hour,” including through “removing fake sites and applications.”
“Although communications have been accessed and used by the campaign, our surveys indicate that no other data has been disclosed,” Google said in an updated statement.
“No other action needs to be taken by the user to participate in this event, users wishing to review third-party applications connected to their account may access Google’s Security Checkup.”
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In the attack, a user sent a trick invite to edit Google Docs, with a subject line that said a contact “has shared a document with you on Google Docs.”
Email address hhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh@mailinator [.] Com is also copied to the message; Mailinator, a free email service provider, has denied any involvement.
If the user clicks on the “Open in Docs” button in the email, they are taken to a page actually hosted on Google and requested to actually allow the service, called “Google Docs,” to retrieve it. Access their email account data.
By allowing, users inadvertently allow hackers to gain access to their email accounts, contacts and online documents.
Malware then sends e-mails to everyone in the victim’s contact list to spread itself.
“This is a very serious situation for anyone infected because the victims whose accounts are controlled by a malicious party,” said Justin Cappos, a professor of network security at NYU University, Tell Reuters.
According to PC World magazine, the scam is far more sophisticated than typical phishing attacks, where people trick people into distributing their personal information by pretending to be a reputable company.
This is because hackers bypass the need to steal user login information and instead create third-party applications that use Google to access the account.
Russian hacker group Fancy Bear has been accused of using similar attacks, but a security expert has questioned their involvement.
Jaime Blasco, AlienVault scientist, security vendor AlienVault, told PC World: “I do not believe they are behind this.
Google says the spam campaign has affected “less than 0.1%” of Gmail users. That works for about a million people affected.
And in 2013, Google said it had detected thousands of phishing attacks against Iranian email accounts ahead of the country’s presidential election.
By: Anna Lee