SAN FRANCISCO -- Computer hackers in China broke into the Gmail accounts of several hundred people, including senior U.S. government officials, military personnel and political activists, Google Inc. said yesterday.
The attacks aren't believed to be tied to a more sophisticated assault originating from China in late 2009 and early last year. That intrusion targeted Google's own security systems and triggered a high-profile battle with China's Communist government over online censorship, which has made it more difficult for the company to do business in the world's most populous country.
The latest duplicity appeared to rely on so-called "phishing" scams and other underhanded behavior that hackers frequently use to obtain passwords from people and websites that aren't vigilant about protecting the information.
Google credited its own security measures for detecting and disrupting the intrusions. Victims have been notified and their Gmail accounts secured, according to the company.
Google wouldn't say what parts of the U.S. government were targeted or whether any confidential information may have been contained in the breached Gmail accounts. In addition to senior government officials, other people whose Gmail accounts were violated included Chinese political activists, military personnel, journalists and officials in other countries, mainly in South Korea.