BANGKOK – Several journalists who cover Burma say they have received warnings from Google that their email accounts might have been hacked by ”state-sponsored attackers”.
The warnings began appearing last week, said the journalists, who included employees of Eleven Media, one of Burma’s leading news organisations; Bertil Lintner, a Thailand-based author and expert on Burma’s ethnic groups; and a Burmese correspondent for Associated Press.
Taj Meadows, a Google spokesman in Tokyo, said that he could not immediately provide specifics about the warnings, but said that Google had begun the policy of notifying users of suspicious activity in June.
Google has not said how it determines whether an attack is ”state-sponsored” and does not identify which government may be leading the attacks.
Some journalists speculated that attempts to hack into email accounts might be linked to the conflict in northern Burma, where ethnic Kachin rebels have engaged in fierce fighting with government troops in recent weeks for control over territory near the border with China.
In Washington, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee said on Sunday the US is vulnerable to cyber attacks that could shut down financial services or destroy information companies need for daily operations.
Mike Rogers, speaking on the CBS television network, said 95 per cent of private sector networks are vulnerable, and most have already been hit.
Some estimates put the value of information hacked at up to $US400 billion ($390 billion) a year. But many companies are reluctant to admit they have been hit to keep a competitive edge and avoid shareholder reaction.
Mr Rogers, a Republican, says hackers have stepped up attacks since last year, and he points to China and Iran. ”They’re taking blueprints back, not just military documents, but civilian innovation that companies are going to use to create production lines to build things,” he said.
The US government had essentially ”set up lawn chairs, told the burglars where the silver is … and opened the case of beer and watched them do it”.