Google’s cloud-based Gmail service has yet again become a favorite target of hackers, who according to reports originated from Russia. The search giant, however, was quick to dispel fears of compromised accounts, saying the hacking of nearly five million credentials, which include usernames and passwords published with no hesitation on the site Bitcoin Security, does not affect a major portion of its user base.
The Mountain View company called on users to change their passwords, nonetheless. Google went on to alleviate worries by saying that not more than 2 percent of the compromised passwords and usernames have actually gone through. But of course the less than 2 percent affected are still Google users who deserve more than a cold remark from the search giant. Google’s statement on the issue is a display of selective security service that it provides to its avid fans.
Good thing the company’s anti-hijacking system works to ward off illegitimate attempts on those affected accounts. It should be made clear that Google’s system was not compromised as it claims, but that many passwords and usernames were leaked. The question is: how did these pieces of information leak? That only Google can answer, and it has yet to give its users an explanation.
So far the Mountain View giant only blames other sources as culprit for the leaking of those credentials. Those sources now claim 60 percent of the leaked credentials actually work, but Google differs. Now there is so much confusion as to whom to believe: the ones who have the actual key to affected accounts or Google which is known to hide things under public and regulatory radar.
Even though Google recommended that its Gmail users change their password, it is never a guarantee that such an unfortunate case will not take place again in the future or much sooner than we expect.
Fortunately for the users of other Google services, the hacking did not have serious impact on other Google offerings including Google Drive and the Wallet payment system. But even users of compromised accounts find the risk too insignificant to ignore. That is a dangerous reaction. However small the piece of data that leaks to hackers, that will amount to huge piles of information when summed up, and that means more compromises at large.
One way to combat this online tragedy is to activate your two-factor authentication feature. Security experts also advise Internet users to use an app for managing passwords if you find bearing all of them in your mind a hard task, which is the case most of the time.