Google has said that the email accounts of US government officials and Chinese political dissidents have been targeted by hackers based in Jinan, China. The Big G says it discovered plans by hackers to steal passwords and monitor emails.
The attack was apparently part of a 'spear phishing' scam, which convinces users they are logging into their Gmail account when in fact they are heading over login and password details to hackers. While it's unclear exactly who is behind the attacks, the complexity of them has led to fears that the Chinese government is involved in some way.
The saga is set to increase tensions at a time when the US government has decided to classify cyber-attacks as acts of war. Google's China operation has been at the centre of controversy ever since it launched, the Mountain View company almost leaving China completely over the issue of censorship.
Google's report on the hacks says they could have been going on since February this year. In an official statement, the search giant said, "Google detected and has disrupted this campaign to take users' passwords and monitor their emails. We have notified victims and secured their accounts. In addition, we have notified relevant government authorities. We believe that this campaign to steal users' passwords originated from Jinan, China. We can't say for sure who is responsible."