“These warnings indicate targeting NOT compromise. If we are warning you there’s a very high chance we blocked [the malicious message],” explained Huntley to anyone spooked by the warnings.
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He added that this month’s increased numbers are due to the persistent attempts from a small number of widely targeted, but eventually blocked, campaigns.
Detected and blocked
According to BleepingComputer, the campaign was detected in late September and accounts for a larger than usual batch of government-backed attack notifications that Google sends to targeted users every month.
Huntley went on to explain that the warnings are usually sent to activists, journalists, government officials, or people that work national security structures, since they are the ones who usually find themselves in the cross-hairs of state-sponsored threat actors.
In an official Google statement Huntley reaffirmed that “100% of these emails were automatically classified as spam and blocked by Gmail.”
But then why the notifications? Huntley explained that the warnings serve as a reminder to people that they are on the potential hit list of threat actors and should keep their eyes peeled for suspicious emails, and take steps to fortify their email accounts, such as enabling two-factor authentication (2FA).
Huntley also shared that the team sends out the notifications in batches, rather than as and when the threats were detected, in order to prevent the attackers from deducing Google’s defense strategies.