Google's latest attempt to warn and protect Chinese Internet users reveals the company's misunderstanding of how its services are accessed in China.
Some users in China who have logged onto their Gmail.com accounts in recent days have been delivered messages by Google that read: "Warning: We believe state-sponsored attackers may be attempting to compromise your account or computer. Protect yourself now."
While the resulting support link that Google provides is viewable in China, many users who attempt to adjust their passwords run into problems because they are then redirected to plus.google.com, which is usually blocked in China. Therefore, password and account changes at plus.google.com are currently impossible for Gmail users in China who lack proxy access to the Google servers hosted offshore.
In recent months, Internet users have also complained that Google's Gmail login has been periodically unavailable because sometimes the logins redirect to YouTube or other Google services blocked in China. Apparently, Google's desire to have a singular login for all its sites causes DNS redirection problems for the users in China. These problems usually occur for Internet users who may have traveled outside of China in the past and registered with YouTube, Google Docs, or Google Plus.
Searches on Google's support system currently yield no answers for users who want to change their account details but lack proxy access. One solution would be for Google to unify its account services under the Gmail service for Gmail users. But while the DNS remapping would take only minutes to complete, Google's large size as a company probably prohibits it from moving quickly to safeguard users in China and adjust its login authentication protocols.
Google last week also started warning its search users that certain banned search terms might cause its website to time-out.