On Wednesday, an online scam targeting Gmail accounts took over the internet.
According to The Independent, the scam allows hackers to take over email accounts, though it is not clear who is running it. It operates by sending users a Google Doc link from a name they are familiar with; upon opening the link the user’s account will be hacked and subsequently used to spread the hack.
Kinesiology junior Meg Darmofal was one user targeted by the hack. In an email to the Daily she noted it was a strange circumstance as students often receive Google Docs invitations from friends.
“I was really thrown off by the hacking because we receive a lot of Google Docs and since it was from a classmate at the start of a new semester I figured it had to do with that,” she wrote. “It’s scary how easy it took place.”
LSA junior Sylvie Evarts also received a Google Doc invitation email from a good friend.
“I opened it on my phone, so I guess, maybe had I opened it on my computer, I would have been a little more aware that it was kind of sketchy,” she said.
She said she thought it might just be a joke, because she saw it had gone to several other friends. When she clicked on the link, she said, she knew something was off because it automatically forwarded to every person in her contact list — every person she had ever contacted with her University email. She received several notifications for failed email attempts because several addresses were no longer valid.
She said she was particularly concerned because she has recently been in correspondence with potential employers.
“The one thing I didn’t like was that I’ve been recruiting a lot for my internships and companies, and I know it sent to all of them,” she said.
A “tricky” element of the hack, according to The Atlantic, is no one knows what the goal of the hack is.
Google Docs tweeted in response as well, saying the company has taken action.