Hacks performed by foreign entities was a primary feature of the 2016 United States Presidential election. While the election may be over, the hacks aren’t done. Prominent journalists in the U.S. have reportedly been targeted by state-sponsored hackers, according to warnings from Google.
Politico reports the notification of attempted attacks have started to appear for many well-known American journalists. According to some of the reporters, the warnings have been appearing for weeks or even months.
Included among the affected journalists are Julia Ioffe of the Atlantic, Jonathan Chait of New York Magazine , Vox founder Ezra Klein, GQ special contributor Keith Olbermann, CNN senior media reporter Brian Stelter, New York Times national security correspondent David Sanger and columnist Paul Krugman, Yahoo Washington bureau chief Garance Franke-Ruta.
The crop of top reporters have spotted a bright red bar that appears atop the GMail inbox when Google believes a person is being targeted. “Warning: Google may have detected government-backed attackers trying to steal your password,” the notification reads.
Google sends the warnings out as a means of alerting people they may want to take extra steps to secure their account. It is primarily a precautionary move and doesn’t mean an account receiving the notification has already been compromised.
Google began issuing users warnings of potential state-sponsored attacks in 2012. When the warning is sent, Google provides the recipient with a number of options to help lock down their account, including creating a more secure password, making sure their browser and other software is up to date and enabling two-factor authentication.
It’s unclear what the motivation of the attempted hacks may be. Given the successful dissemination of hacked emails from the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta, it’s possible the hackers intend to leak private conversations from the press to an organization like WikiLeaks.
The apparent targeting of journalists has gone beyond just hacking attempts as well. Chait has reportedly received an email from a stranger offering to provide him with an encryption key. The person wouldn’t disclose any additional details or meet or talk with the reporter.
Other journalists including David Frum, James Fallows and Adam Serwer of the Atlantic , Andrew Sullivan of New York Magazine and Ars Technica’s Dan Goodin also received the email.