Once again, reports have surfaced that journalists across a variety of publications have begun to receive warnings from Google that state-sponsored hackers are attempting to steal their Gmail passwords to gain access to their email accounts.
Google sent the warnings out of "an abundance of caution," reports one media publication, but the warnings did not necessarily mean the accounts were compromised.
Among those who received the message, Politico reports Jonathan Chait of New York magazine, Julia Ioffe from The Atlantic, Brian Stelter from CNN, and Paul Krugman from the Times.
For Ioffe it appears the threat of an attack is old hat. "Another day, another state-sponsored phishing attack," she writes, posting a copy of the warning along with the Twitter tweet.
"Some journalists getting the warnings say they suspect the hackers could be Russians looking to find incriminating emails they could leak to embarrass journalists, either by revealing alleged liberal bias or to expose the sausage-making of D.C. journalism," reports Politico.
Vox Founder Ezra Klein and Washington Bureau Chief Garance Franke-Ruta also received letters. Some said they had been receiving letters for weeks. Some believe the potential attacks are linked to U.S. politics.
Google, Yahoo and Microsoft began issuing warnings years ago. In June 2012, Google posted on its Security Blog that it would take step to alert users of state-sponsored attacks, and posted a version of the alert. In the post, Eric Grosse, VP security engineering at Google, wrote that without going into details, the company's algorithms know when the hacking "strongly suggests the involvement of states or groups that are state-sponsored."
A Google spokesperson confirmed in an email that these kinds of warnings are not new. From the frequency of Google's blog posts on the subject, these warnings seem to surface more often during an election or during political seasons.
State-sponsored warning from email providers have become too common of late. In September 2016, Yahoo sent an email message to Yahoo users confirming that a "copy of certain user account information was stolen from the company's network in late 2014. The email reported "a state-sponsored" attack where at least 500 million users had their account data stolen from its network.