Just days after the U.K. and U.S. governments indicated a new zero-tolerance policy to cyber attacks, the search-giant Google has confirmed that it recently suffered yet another attempted cyber raid on its email service.
The report indicated that certain users of the company's Gmail service were attacked using malware and spear phishing emails. The attack was apparently intended to reveal the user's account password to the hackers, thus granting them access to the user's account allowing them to digitally monitor the user's messages.
Google has since released a statement on its blog reporting that it had successfully "disrupted" the attack.
The source of the new cyber attack has since been traced to the Shandong Province in central China, leading to fresh speculation about the country's possible covert use of hackers.
The accounts targeted reportedly included those of senior U.S. government officials as well as Chinese activists and journalists.
The latest attempted hack is not the first time Google has had problems with China. Shandong is the same province the company traced as the origin point of a previous cyber attack on its computer systems back in 2009. It also suffered another "serious" cyber attack on its source code back in 2010.
The 2009 attack is commonly attributed as a key reason for the company's ongoing tensions with China. The attack is often speculated as the key reason Google cut its search censorship deal with China and moved of its Chinese-Language site from the country's mainland to Hong Kong.
The exact location of the hackers has been reported as Jinan, the capital of China's eastern Shandong province. Jinan has been the subject of global scrutiny before. The city is home to one of the People's Liberation Army's six technical reconnaissance bureaus and a technical college that is commonly suspected of playing a role in 2009's attack on Google.
The news of a fresh cyber attack comes just after a leaked report from the Pentagon about its policy on cyber attacks was published in the Wall Street Journal.
American officials have already confirmed that any deliberate infiltration of its secure networks may be considered an "act of war."
An unidentified Pentagon spokesman also revealed to the Wall Street Journal that the country would be willing to meet any cyber attack with full-on real-world military action, "If you shut down our power grid, maybe we will put a missile down one of your smokestacks".
The document reported on by the Wall Street Journal is expected to be released sometime next month. If the Wall Street Journal's initial report is true, the document will cement the U.S.'s new zero-tolerance approach to cyber attacks.
The new policy would mean that the U.S. would treat and react to any cyber attack in the same way it would a real-world military assault -- meaning it would hold cyber attacks as accountable to the same international laws currently applied to real-world armed conflicts.
The paper is also expected to outline a new plan for the U.S. to coordinate its approach to cyber attacks with Britain.
Britain has already announced a similar approach to the growing threat cyber attacks pose. Cybercrime and internet espionage have already cost the country an estimated £27 billion a year. In response just yesterday a U.K. minister revealed the existence of new government funded cyber weapon development projects.
Google has since reported that it's working with U.S. law enforcement agencies in the wake of the latest attack and despite widespread speculation to the contrary, the Chinese Government has once again denied its involvement.