Google is investigating a growing number of reports that hackers are breaking into legitimate Gmail accounts and then using them to send spam messages. The problem started about a week ago but seems to have escalated over the past few days.
"The Gmail team takes security very seriously and is investigating the reports we've seen in our user forums over the past few days," Google said Tuesday in an e-mailed statement. "We encourage users who suspect their accounts have been compromised to immediately change their passwords and to follow the advice at the following page: http://www.google.com/help/security/." Gmail accounts are often compromised after phishing attempts or via malicious programs, which can seek out and log online credentials from a hacked computer.