A user on Twitter posted a screenshot in which Google warns him as he may be targeted by state sponsored attackers. What kind of attacks can be detected by Google and how?

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    @Nomad that's knowledge I didn't have! – Marcus Müller Apr 6 '18 at 18:17
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    Here's some more if you're interested: security.googleblog.com/2016/03/… ! – Nomad Apr 6 '18 at 18:18
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    Add a few descriptive words and I think you have an answer @Nomad – Neil Smithline Apr 6 '18 at 19:19
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    I didn't see it that way @NeilSmithline, thanks for the tip-off :-) – Nomad Apr 6 '18 at 19:30
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    I think this question cannot possibly receive a complete answer, because if there was a complete answer it would be trivial to bypass the protections. – Riking Apr 6 '18 at 20:35

Google states on their security blog that:

These warnings are rare—fewer than 0.1% of users ever receive them—but they are critically important. The users that receive these warnings are often activists, journalists, and policy-makers taking bold stands around the world.


We can't reveal the tip-off because these attackers will adapt, but this happens to less then 0.1% of all Gmail users.

So I think we can only speculate about how they do it, but you shouldn't forget that google has a lot of information on a lot of people, and enough serverpower to make feasible predictions.

Source: https://security.googleblog.com/2016/03/more-encryption-more-notifications-more.html

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  • Oh that's fascinating, I had no idea they did that! For a company that was part of PRISM, that's pretty impressive. – forest Apr 7 '18 at 1:46
  • It is still unclear how involved Google was in PRISM, most of what we know is based off a few demo slides if I recall correctly. Also, Google can choose which state actors they consider dangerous.But that's a different discussion! – Nomad Apr 7 '18 at 3:05
  • I believe they were fully compliant with PRISM, in addition to more covert interception ("SSL added and removed here"). – forest Apr 7 '18 at 3:08
  • That I didn't know. Any source? And well, just because they warn for some state actors, doesn't mean they warn for all. I suppose using gmail as a Russian activist would be safer than as an American in that case... – Nomad Apr 9 '18 at 0:25

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