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Tech Results

Woman’s email and photos compromised by hacker looking for nudes after she sent phone to Google for repair

‘The photos they opened were of me in bathing suits, sports bras, form-fitting dresses, and of stitches after surgery’, Jane McGonigal wrote

Adam Smith
Monday 06 December 2021 12:31
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Google’s staff allegedly accessed the Google services, Dropbox account, and email account of a customer’s Pixel 5a device after it was sent in for repair.

Jane McGonigal, an author and developer, wrote a Twitter thread alleging that members of Google’s team “opened a bunch of selfies hoping to find nudes” judging by activity logs Ms McGonigal had access to.

“The photos they opened were of me in bathing suits, sports bras, form-fitting dresses, and of stitches after surgery. They deleted Google security notifications in my backup email accounts”, Ms McGonigal wrote.

“This happened even though I tried to erase the phone and lock the phone from Google’s find my phone service.”

Ms McGonigal went on to say that the “hacker” changed her Gmail settings to mark all security messages as spam, leading to her not being aware of the issue until she checked the folder. The hacker also reportedly changed her passwords.

Google is understood to be investigating the case, but declined to comment on the record. Ms McGonigal has apparently “heard from individuals via backchannel, not officially from Google, that Google is looking into it and it’s getting escalated. She added that she has “not been officially contact by anyone with information or offer to help yet”.

This is apparently not the first issue Ms McGonigal has had with the Pixel repair team. “I have been on Google support and Pixel support dozens of time all week BEFORE the hack happened, asking them to investigate why my phone marked delivered by FedEx ‘disappeared’ at the warehouse”, she tweeted.

It is possible that Google never received the device that Ms McGonigal sent to them, and instead the device was intercepted in transit, she suggested.

FedEx did not respond to a request for comment from The Independent before time of publication.

In most instances it is good practice to completely wipe a device before sending it to be repaired – whether that is by the official manufacturer or a trusted third-party provider. Sometimes, however, this is not possible.

“A consumer can’t factory reset a phone that won’t turn on. I took every other recommended step to secure it including Lock my Phone and Erase my Phone via Google’s FindMyPhone service. It did not work”, Ms McGonigal tweeted.

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