Google has warned that it has discovered highly targeted and apparently politically motivated attacks launched against some of its users.
In a blog post reminiscent of the revelation in January 2010 that it was being hacked by attackers in China, Google's Security Team said that activists may have been the specific target in these attacks.
"We've noticed some highly targeted and apparently politically motivated attacks against our users," the post read.
"We've also seen attacks against users of another popular social site. All these attacks abuse a publicly-disclosed MHTML [MIME HTML] vulnerability for which an exploit was publicly posted in January 2011."
The vulnerability in question involves the way Windows manages web pages featuring content formatted in the MIME internet standard.
At the time of its discovery, Microsoft said that an attacker could exploit the vulnerability by convincing the user to click on a link to a page containing a malicious script that targets the MHTML component.
Once exploited, the vulnerability could give an attacker access to the user's browser, potentially allowing the harvesting of personal information or cross-site scripting and spoofing attacks.
Although Microsoft has yet to come up with a patch to the flaw, it has issued a temporary Fixit to block the attack which the Google team recommended concerned users and corporations download now.
"To help protect users of our services, we have deployed various server-side defences to make the MHTML vulnerability harder to exploit," the team wrote.
"That said, these are not tenable long-term solutions, and we can't guarantee them to be 100% reliable or comprehensive. We're working with Microsoft to develop a comprehensive solution for this issue."
Google also warned that the attacks represent a more sophisticated level of skill among hackers in exploiting web vulnerabilities.
"To date, similar attacks focused on directly compromising users' systems, as opposed to leveraging vulnerabilities to interact with web services," the firm said.
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