Google adds feature to warn users about 'state-sponsored attacks'


Google said today that it has added a feature to warn users whose accounts it believes are targets of "state-sponsored attacks," but the internet giant did not cite a specific government.

Google, however, closed its search engine in China in 2010 after saying it no longer wanted to cooperate with Beijing's internet censorship following hacking attacks traced to China.

A message that says "Warning: We believe state-sponsored attackers may be trying to compromise your account or computer" will appear onscreen if users are targeted, Eric Grosse, a vice president for security engineering, wrote on a company blog.

Google cannot say how it knows activity is state-sponsored without giving information that would help attackers, Grosse wrote. But detailed analysis and victim reports "strongly suggest the involvement of states or groups that are state-sponsored," he wrote.

A report in November by US intelligence agencies said Chinese and Russian intelligence services and companies with state ties systematically break into American computer systems to steal commercial information.

Western security experts say China's military is a leader in cyberwarfare research.

Beijing has rejected suggestions by Western security experts that its military or government agencies were involved in the Google hacking. But it has not responded publicly to appeals by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and other officials to help investigate hacking attacks.