Gmail now thwarts 99.9 per cent of scam emails

Computer Active (UK) - - News -

Google claims that its Gmail ser­vice now blocks 99.9 per cent of all phish­ing at­tempts it de­tects. It says that this is a “huge” achieve­ment be­cause 50 to 70 per cent of emails that Gmail users re­ceive are spam.

In a blog post an­nounc­ing the mile­stone ( www.snipca. com/24556), the com­pany says that Gmail’s de­tec­tion rate has been boosted by ma­chine learn­ing. This is ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence that al­lows soft­ware to im­prove by it­self, with­out any hu­man in­volve­ment.

Andy Wen, se­nior prod­uct man­ager at Google’s coun­ter­abuse tech­nol­ogy team, said: “As we find new pat­terns, our mod­els adapt more quickly than man­ual sys­tems ever could, and get bet­ter with time”.

He added that Gmail is now bet­ter at spot­ting “poly­mor­phic mal­ware”, which are threats that con­stantly change to by­pass an­tivirus soft­ware.

Ma­chine learn­ing also al­lows Gmail to de­lay se­lect mes­sages – around 0.05 per cent – in or­der to per­form more “rig­or­ous” tests that de­ter­mine whether they are safe. In ad­di­tion, Gmail will block at­tach­ment file types that “carry a high po­ten­tial for se­cu­rity risks”, in­clud­ing Javascript (see the full list at

Google is also strength­en­ing its se­cu­rity for com­pa­nies that use Gmail. Now, when an em­ployee tries to send an email to some­one out­side the com­pany, or not in their con­tact list, Gmail will ask them whether they re­ally want to send it (see screen­shot). Google says this will stop em­ploy­ees ac­ci­den­tally send­ing sen­si­tive data to the wrong per­son.

Wen ac­knowl­edged that such warn­ings be­come an­noy­ing if they are shown too of­ten, but said that Gmail uses “con­tex­tual in­tel­li­gence” to de­ter­mine whether the re­cip­i­ent is an ex­ist­ing con­tact or some­one you send emails to reg­u­larly, and there­fore prob­a­bly safe. This will avoid “dis­play­ing warn­ings un­nec­es­sar­ily” he claimed.

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