Tens of thousands of Gmail accounts belonging to Iranian users have been targeted in an extensive hacking campaign in the weeks leading up to the country’s closely watched presidential elections on Friday, Google Inc said on Wednesday. The U.S. Internet company, which described the attacks as broad “email-based phishing” attempts seeking to trick unsuspecting Gmail users into giving up their user names and passwords, said they originated in Iran and appeared to be “politically motivated in connection with the Iranian presidential election on Friday.”
Google said it has a policy to alert users to “state-sponsored attacks and other suspicious activity,” but did not identify the perpetrators beyond saying that it appeared to be the same group behind a Gmail hacking campaign in 2011 involving fraudulent digital certificates.
The most recent phishing campaigns began almost three weeks ago, Google said. The “timing and targeting of the campaigns” suggested a connection to the election, Google said without elaborating.