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Google says warned 500 Indians against govt-backed phishing attacks


Search engine behemoth Google has alerted about 500 Indian users on government-backed phishing attempts against them.

From July to September 2019, the search engine sent more than 12,000 warnings to users globally, including 500 in India, that they were targeted by government-backed attackers, Google said in a blog post.

Over 90 per cent of these users were targeted via credential phishing emails. “These are usually attempting to obtain the target’s password or other account credentials to hijack their account,” said Shane Huntley, who heads Google’s Threat Analysis Group (TAG).

As per a global phishing map shared by Google, India numbers were higher than China. Among other countries, the US witnessed over 1,000 such government-backed phishing attacks.

These groups have many goals including intelligence collection, stealing intellectual property, targeting dissidents and activists, destructive cyber attacks, or spreading coordinated disinformation, added Huntley.

However, the search engine did not reveal any further details about government-backed actors and individuals it has targeted.

Journalists, human rights activists, and political campaigns could be high-risk users being targeted by the government, Google said.

The development comes after Facebook-owned WhatsApp revealed snooping on Indian journalists and rights activists through Isreali spyware Pegasus.  It was alleged that govt had a role in snooping as spyware claimed that it only sells the spyware to government agencies.

Responding to questions in Parliament on Thursday, IT minister Ravi Shankar Prasad had said that “no unauthorised interception has been done.”

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