Google has reportedly warned numerous prominent journalists that they have become the latest targets of state-sponsored hackers, intent on stealing email account passwords to access sensitive material. Journalists at New York Times, The Atlantic, Vox and CNN are among those who were warned of the cyberthreat against them by the tech giant, according to reports.
Some of the journalists who have received Google's warnings suspect that the state-sponsored hackers could be Russians, looking to access incriminating emails which could be used against them and the American media, according to a report by Politico.
"The fact that all this started right after the election suggests to me that journalists are the next wave to be targeted by state-sponsored hackers in the way that Democrats were during it," said one journalist who got the warning. "I worry that the outcome is going to be the same: Someone, somewhere, is going to get hacked, and then the contents of their gmail will be weaponized against them — and by extension all media."
A Google spokesperson said, "Since 2012, we've notified users when we believe their Google accounts are being targeted by government-backed attackers. We send these warnings out of an abundance of caution — they do not indicate that a user's account has already been compromised or that a more widespread attack is occurring when they receive the notice."
Jonathan Chait of New York Magazine, Julia Ioffe from The Atlantic, Ezra Klein, the founder of Vox,CNN senior media reporter Brian Stelter, New York Times national security correspondent David Sanger, Times columnist Paul Krugman and Yahoo Washington bureau chief Garance Franke-Ruta, are among those who confirmed having recently received Google's warning.
GQ special contributor Keith Olbermann claimed that he began receiving the warnings shortly after the election.
Chait claimed that he was "contacted over email by a stranger who offered to help me by giving me an encryption key to protect me from hackers. He would not give me his name, meet me or talk on the phone, despite repeated requests."
The same stranger is also believed to have contacted four reporters with The Atlantic - David Frum, James Fallows and Adam Serwer, Andrew Sullivan – as well as Ars Technica's Dan Goodin.
Stanford professor Michael McFaul, former US ambassador to Russia said that he too received warnings from Google. "Given my background, one would have to guess that it's the Russians."