Google decided to do things differently from other e-mail providers when it launched Gmail.

San Francisco - Google has begun alerting users of its Gmail system that they could be targeted by state-sponsored hacking of their accounts on the popular email platform.

Eric Grosse, the company's vice president of Security Engineering, announced the new policy in a blog posting on Tuesday night, saying that the warning would appear in a pink bar to users that Google considered at risk.

“Our detailed analysis - as well as victim reports - strongly suggest the involvement of states or groups that are state-sponsored,” Grosse said, urging users to make sure they had strong passwords to their accounts, and took other security measures, such as using Google's two step verification process.

Grosse said that revealing more information about the nature of the attacks and their links to state-sponsored organisations would aid hackers in penetrating users' accounts.

While he did not mention China as the perpetrator of the attacks, Google has recently been in sharp contention with Beijing authorities over its search service and announced in March last year that China had been linked to a massive attempt to hack the email accounts of foreign company employees and local dissidents.

Reports in Belarus, Iran and Syria have also accused authorities in those countries of attempting to hack the email accounts of citizens, while Israeli authorities have recently been accused of demanding the email password information of pro-Palestinian activists wishing to visit that country. - Sapa-dpa