In an effort to keep users safe, Google has taken active steps to ensure their security, for example notifying users when Google believes their accounts may have been compromised or when they stumble upon an infected web page via Google Search or Chrome.
Now Google is taking another bold step by notifying users that they may be the victims of a state-sponsored attack. These notifications show up when Google detects that governments are trying to interfere with its services on the client side.
Importantly, the notifications show up when these bad agents attempt an attack even if it is unsuccessful. This way, users actually have a change to protect themselves and take measures to increase the security of their accounts.
At the very least, they will be more aware of potential dangers and more wary of suspicious behavior, like forged login pages and so on.
"If you see this warning it does not necessarily mean that your account has been hijacked. It just means that we believe you may be a target, of phishing or malware for example, and that you should take immediate steps to secure your account," Google said
The company will provide a link to more info on what users can do to increase the security of their accounts, like using a strong password, enabling 2-step verification and so on.
For those unfortunate enough to be the targets of such an attack, the feature should prove invaluable maybe even life-saving in some cases.
But Google is leaving out the interesting details, how exactly it can know that not only a user is targeted but that it is a state-sponsored affair. It says it can't reveal anything for fear of its methods becoming known to the attackers.
Google accounts are often targeted by governments wanting more information or more control over their citizens. The US authorities can simply ask Google to provide the data and forbid it from even revealing this, but other countries, Iran, China and so on, are not so fortunate so they must turn to sophisticated attacks.