ORLANDO, Fla. - It’s come to be an expected risk in national politics, but now a local Florida lawmaker is being warned of a possible hack attempt by a foreign government.
Orlando State Representative Anna Eskamani said she woke up on Thursday to three emails in her campaign email’s inbox. All three were addressed from Google and all three warned of a possible “government-backed attack to the account.”
“This is to inform you that government-backed attackers may be attempting to compromise the account of user Rep. Anna V. Eskamani,” the emails read.
“Of course when I saw that type of email I was really surprised, I thought maybe the email itself was fake,” said Rep. Eskamani, “so I used Google to check and see if this is legitimate and apparently it is.”
According to Google support, the company does send alerts like these when they believe government-backed attackers are trying to access an account. They say there is a chance that the alert is a false alarm, but the alerts are sent specifically because they detect a technique targeting the email that is commonly used by government-backed attackers.
The company said they cannot reveal what those techniques are to avoid disclosing their detection techniques to other potential hackers.
Google support also writes that the attacks happen to less than 0.1 percent of their email users, but note that politicians are at an increased risk.
“I’ve alerted the Florida House Sargent’s Office,” said Eskamani, who adds that as a politician, it is disturbing to see this kind of warning, especially given the recent national attention on foreign infiltration.
Eskamani, Orlando-born but whose family is originally from Iran, regularly tweets and retweets about issues in the country, including political unrest. She said it is possible that the attack, if truly an attack attempt, could have originated there. However, she said there is obviously no way of knowing for sure.
The Representative is using the alert as an example for everyone to watch their cybersecurity and take extra steps to prevent any sort of infiltration.
“I change my passwords often, I use a two-step process to get into my email accounts,” said Eskamani.
A representative for Google also recommended that high-risk users such as politicians, business executives, etc. sign up for their Advanced Protection Program, which they said offers their strongest levels of account security.