Thursday 7 April 2016

Gmail Will now Warn You if You’re Being Targeted by the Government


Gmail Security Warning

Apple is not the only company that has been combating against government backed cyber-attacks. While Apple and the FBI dispute over the security of the user, Google has been bringing security in focus in a different way, by telling you what is going on. The company would be increasing the perceptibility of Gmail security warning in an attempt to help people in protecting themselves while sending and receiving emails.

One of the changes seems to be the expansion of the `safe browsing’ notifications that tells the user when they are about to open a suspicious link from an email. The warnings could appear when a link has been clicked but before the link really opens, it presents the user with a last option to withdraw instead of visiting the page. Earlier a warning was only shown before a link was clicked though no block seemed to appear if the user had not seen the warning or clicked it.

Google expects that this new additional warning would be helpful in stopping users from visiting malicious sites. Google also tends to continue the fight against state-sponsored attacks, portraying a full page warning when one is being targeted by a government-backed hacker.

Gmail Accounts Targeted by Government-backed Attackers

In a blog post, Google had mentioned that less than 0.1% of Gmail users would be receiving this kind of warning, but it highlights the importance of the warnings due to the fact that those often receiving them seem to be journalist, policy-makers and activists.

 The new warning of the state-sponsored attacks could be portrayed in addition to or instead of current warnings which Google tends to have in place for state-sponsored attacks. Google has been complaining of Gmail security a bit recently and last month had made an announcement that it would be warning users who seem to send email to recipients who were not utilising TLS encryption.

As per Google, after adding this message, the number of emails that were sent over encrypted connections had increased by around 25%. In an update in the manner that Gmail intends to be more secure, Google revealed that around 1 million Gmail accounts could have been targeted by government-backed attackers so far.

Striving to Improve Safe Browsing/Enhance Email Encryption

Google did not disclosethe precise number and did not provide any explanation on how it knows when these hacks tend to take place. When a hack is identified, a pink Warning tab tends to appear on top of Gmail prompting affected users to protect themselves.

 The company also made an announcement recently that besides the bar, users would also get the full page warning with instructions on how to stay safe. This is what will be seen if a government is trying to hack into a Gmail account. Google, in its security update, mentioned that is striving to improve its Safe Browsing warnings which appear in Gmail each time a user clicks on what is believed to be a shady link which could lead to malware or phishing attacks.

Google intends to further enhance email encryption and the company has partnered with Comcast, Microsoft and Yahoo in submitting a draft IETF specification for `SMTP Strict Transport Security’, and Google together with its partners desire to ensure that encrypted email remains encrypted all along the complete path from sender to recipient.

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