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Google Warns of Increased Hacking Attempts in Iran

A Google sign is seen at a Best Buy electronics store in Encinitas, California, Apr. 11, 2013.
Google is reporting a significant increase in the number of email-based hacking attempts originating from Iran in the lead-up to the country's presidential election Friday.

In a statement, the U.S. Internet company said it has disrupted and detected multiple so-called "phishing" campaigns aimed at compromising the accounts of tens of thousands of Iranian users during a period of almost three weeks.

The statement by Eric Grosse, Google's Vice President for Security Engineering, said the timing and targeting of the campaigns suggest the attacks are politically motivated. He did not elaborate.

The statement warned that the email messages were meant to trick recipients into clicking on a link that would lead them to a fake Google account maintenance page that would attempt to steal user names and passwords.

It recommended users make their accounts more secure by enabling two-step verification, which requires information other than a password to access an account. It also said users should make sure that website addresses are legitimate before providing sensitive information.

Google did not say who was responsible for the hacking attempts, but suggested it could be the same group that was behind a more complicated Gmail hacking campaign in 2011.

Iranians are going to the polls on Friday to elect a successor to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.