In a statement released today on the Official Google Blog, Google comments on the extent of the hacking, "This campaign, which appears to originate from Jinan, China, affected what seem to be the personal Gmail accounts of hundreds of users including, among others, senior U.S. government officials, Chinese political activists, officials in several Asian countries (predominantly South Korea), military personnel and journalists."
Google claims the attacks were not the result of a internal network security breach. The hacking was the result of an external phishing campaign to collect user passwords. Phishing schemes can use some type of software installed on the end user's computers to steal passwords, or they can use some other type of email or web communications to device a user into exposing their password.
The hackers would then use the stolen password to monitor the accounts, and change the settings on the accounts.
Who is to blame?
This past weekend U.S. top defense contractor Lockheed Martin was hacked. While there has been intense speculation that China may be involved, no official statement has accused them.
This hacking of Google Gmail appears to have U.S. government officials as a target, and according to to Google's statement, originated in China.
Coincidence? Let the spy novels and conspiracy theories take over from here. We'll keep you up to date with the facts.