For four years, Google has been notifying Gmail customers when they come under attack from hackers who may be working for foreign governments. The company has long remained vague about the the way it detects and identifies these hackers—“we can’t reveal the tip-off,” the company tells users—and about the number of notifications it routinely sends. Until now.
When these warnings were introduced, they appeared as thin red bars tacked to the top of users’ inboxes. But just a few months ago, Google redesigned the notifications to be considerably more in-your-face: Now, they take up the entire screen, announcing themselves with an angry red flag. “Government-backed hackers may be trying to steal your password,” the alert reads, advising users to enable two-factor authentication.
The new alert says that fewer than one in a thousand Gmail users are targeted by foreign hackers—but for a product with more than a billion active users, that could still be a really big number. (0.1 percent of 1 billion is 1 million.)
On Monday, Google provided its most precise estimate ever of the number of cyberattacks it detects that target Gmail users. Speaking at Fortune’s Brainstorm Tech conference in Aspen, Colorado, Google Senior Vice President Diane Greene said the company notifies 4,000 users each month of state-sponsored cyberattacks, Reuters reported.