Remember WhatsApp’s startling admission recently, where it claimed an Israeli spyware was used to hack into certain Indian users’ phones?
There may be a fresh twist in this tale of seemingly unprecedented global cyber espionage. And it comes in the form of a worrying security report by Google.
Recently, Google’s Threat Analysis Group (TAG) revealed that it has warned over 12,000 users around the world that they were being targeted by government-backed data hacking attacks, specifically pertaining to phishing of confidential data.
What’s important to note here that 500 people were under attack in India itself, according to Google. These warnings were issued from July to September this year, including to the 500 Indians under threat of their confidential data being phished out.
Who tried to attack Indian citizens?
TAG report reveals over 149 countries were attacked by such government-backed phishing attempts. The primary motive for such attacks is to steal crucial personal data, intellectual property, targeting activists who are trying to stand against the government.
Google also mentions the fact that it doesn’t know if the people under attack were attacked by their own country’s government or was it some other government altogether.
Google spokesperson says in a statement, “They encourage high-risk users—like journalists, human rights activists, and political campaigns—to enrol in our Advanced Protection Program (APP), which utilises hardware security keys and provides the strongest protections available against phishing and account hijackings.” Google found that over 90 per cent of these users were targeted via “credential phishing emails”.
Phishing is basically stealing of personal data by pretending to be someone so that a user would trust an attacker in providing confidential data, under the pretence that it is an official authority.
For example many hackers send phishing links that allow users to log into their Google accounts, however, when they try to log in, (after entering the username and password) hackers steal this data and use it for stealing other confidential information from your account.
Today our smartphones know a lot about us. Earlier it used to be misguided nerds pretending to be hackers who would try to steal data to either sell it to the dark web and earn some money or just to trouble a user. But now hackers backed by nation states are waging cyber warfare at an unprecedented level, and who knows to what end.