Google warned on Wednesday that hackers were launching targeted phishing attacks against hundreds of Gmail account users, including senior U.S. government officials, Chinese political activists, military personnel and journalists. That story, as related in a blog post on the Official Google Blog, was retold in hundreds of media outlets today as the latest example of Chinese cyber espionage: The lead story in the print edition of The Wall Street Journal today was, “Google: China Hacked Email.”
The fact that hackers are launching extremely sophisticated email attacks that appear to trace back to China makes for great headlines, but it isn’t exactly news. I’m surprised by how few media outlets took the time to explain the mechanics behind these targeted attacks, because they offer valuable insight into why people who really ought to know better keep falling for these attacks. I also think a more complete accounting of the attacks may give regular Internet users a better sense of the caliber of scams that are likely to target them somewhere down the road.