Gmail is one of the most popular email services on the planet. Having been started in 2004 as an invitation only Google product, it is currently ranked as the second most popular client in the world, with the iPhone service leading the pack. This is according to a report by Litmus. That said, its popularity is also its Achilles Heel, as this makes it a lucrative target for hackers.
Delving a bit into this, about 645 cybercrime incidents were reported in the month of July, and $2.5 million was stolen. This is according to a report by Scoop. One of the most common methods used by hackers is phishing. The technique has been used by cybercriminals to obtain sensitive information such as usernames and passwords from unsuspecting email service users.
Just last month, a man named Edward Majerczyk, 28, pleaded guilty to hacking into hundreds of Gmail and iCloud accounts, including those of 30 American celebrities. He is said to have initiated a phishing scam that tricked people into giving their emails and passwords. The following is an excerpt of the report by the LA Times.
“Using email addresses like email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org, Majerczyk duped more than 300 people… The emails he sent out led the victims to believe they were receiving messages from their Internet service providers… Majerczyk used the information he obtained through the scam to rummage through his victims’ personal files and steal photographs and videos. He’s scheduled to be sentenced Jan. 10.”
That said, Hillary Clinton had earlier in the year gotten into trouble for using a private email account hosted in her own server and a Gmail account, instead of using secure options provided for U.S. state officials. This was during her tenure as Obama’s secretary of state.
About the Gmail account, she had it set up in 2010 to receive articles of interest after buying an iPad. This is as revealed by one of her former aides during an interview carried out by the FBI. This is as reported by Politico. The following is an excerpt of the revelation by the member of staff.
“‘[NAME REDACTED] stated that she could not view the articles on her Blackberry and the iPad and email account were set up as a way to test a different delivery method,’ the FBI’s account of the interview reads. The unnamed aide said he was ‘fairly sure’ the Gmail account wasn’t used after its initial setup, however. The aide also recounted how, ‘after he gave the Secretary the iPad, the Secretary fell asleep holding the unopened packaging in her arms.'”
According to the aide, Hillary’s Gmail email address was most likely not used for its initially intended purpose. And when the FBI carried out an investigation on it, two of Hillary Clinton’s closest staffers, Huma Abedin and Cheryl Mills, stated that they had no knowledge of its existence.
In July this year, Hillary and other former state officials were asked via a directive by Patrick Kennedy, State Department Undersecretary for Management, to hand over all federal records in their possession. The following was the notification as highlighted by Politico.
“For records management purposes, the Department asks that you and your client now take steps to return all copies of potential federal records in your possession to the Department as soon as possible. The Department’s Office of Information.”
However, following a ruling that Hillary and her aides shouldn’t delete any personal emails in their possession, her classified emails still sit in Google’s servers. The situation makes their security even more volatile.
What’s more, they can only be deleted following a court ruling. According to Bill Leonard, former director of the Information Security Oversight Office, one of the main reasons why the government is hesitant on going after Hillary Clinton’s Gmail account is because of the risk of bringing even more attention to it, making it a major target for cybercriminals.
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