06/13/2013 02:54 pm ET

Iran's Pre-Election Phishing Scheme Detected, Disrupted By Google

AP Photo/Vahid Salemi

Google announced on its blog Wednesday that it had discovered an Iranian phishing scheme.

The phishing attacks -- which aimed to convince "tens of thousands" of Iranian users to enter their Gmail usernames and passwords into a fake webpage -- have been happening for nearly three weeks, and "represent a significant jump in the overall volume of phishing activity in the region," the blog says.

Google notes that the attacks are likely connected to the upcoming Iranian presidential elections on Friday, when more than 50 million voters can go to the polls to elect a successor to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who can't run for a third term.

The attackers behind the scheme may be the same ones responsible for the 2011 attack against DigiNotar, a Dutch company that provides digital security certificates for websites, TechCrunch notes. At the time of the DigiNotar attack, the Electronic Frontier Foundation reported that "the attacker claims to be an individual Iranian who has chosen to help the government monitor individuals' communications."

Iran's opposition movement tends to be very tech savvy, and the Iranian government is notoriously suspicious of Google. It temporarily blocked Gmail in September of last year and has been blocking the Google-owned video sharing website YouTube continuously since then.



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