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Google Wages War on Gmail Spam Hackers

How secure is your email? If you’re among the 425 million people who use Gmail, you’ll be pleased with this answer. In a recent blog post, Google revealed that only 1% of email threats actually make it to your inbox.

The remaining 99% end up in your spam folder, where each message is flagged with specific warnings about phishing, malware or other potentially dangerous spam.

It’s one of the many reasons why we love Google over here at the Scambook Blog. (Another reason? Google Voice. Click here to learn about how Google Voice can save you from a Craigslist scam.)

 

Spam Filters Get Smarter, Scammers Get Sneakier

But just as spam filters in Gmail are getting smarter, fraudsters are also getting sneakier. In 2010, Google saw a large increase in the volume of fraudulent messages sent from Gmail accounts. To get around an advanced spam filter like Gmail’s, scammers developed some very deceitful tactics.

They started hacking into Gmail user accounts and blasting spam to the user’s contacts. In other words, that’s why you get those weird emails from your grandma about HCG Ultra Drops and work-from-home programs. Gmail recognizes your grandma’s email address and considers it safe, so the message slips through the spam filter and lands in your inbox.

If your grandma emails you about HCG Ultra Drops, her email account was probably hijacked.

At Scambook, we’ve received hundreds of complaints about diet products associated with this tactic, like HCG Ultra and Raspberry Ultra Drops/Raspberry Ketone Diet. Users get an email from a hijacked account, but they don’t know their friend or family member has been hacked by spammers. They trust their friend’s “endorsement” and buy the product.

Google describes the hackers’ aggressiveness on their Official Blog:

“We’ve seen a single attacker using stolen passwords to attempt to break into a million different Google accounts every single day, for weeks at a time. A different gang attempted sign-ins at a rate of more than 100 accounts per second.”

And remember, it’s only 1% of threats that slip through Gmail’s spam filter. Wow.

How You Can Increase Your Own Google Security

Since Gmail hijacking attempts reached their peak in 2011, Google has significantly boosted security and reduced the overall number of compromised accounts by 99.7%.

Every time someone logs in to Google or Gmail, Google goes to great lengths to ensure that it’s the legitimate user, not a hacker. From Google’s Official Blog:

“[O]ur system performs a complex risk analysis to determine how likely it is that the sign-in really comes from you. In fact, there are more than 120 variables that can factor into how a decision made.

If a sign-in is deemed suspicious or risky for some reason—maybe it’s coming from a country oceans away from your last sign-in—we ask some simple questions about your account…These questions are normally hard for a hijacker to solve, but are easy for the real owner.”

However, there are steps can take on your own to further boost your Gmail security. The most important cyber safety tip is to use a strong, unique password. Change it every three months and never use the same password for multiple websites. If you need help making a secure password, watch our video How to Create a Password Even Your Ex Can’t Hack.

You can help boost Gmail security by using a strong, unique password and Google’s 2-Step Verification.

Google also recommends upgrading your Gmail settings. Update your recovery contacts (such as your secondary email and phone number) and use 2-Step Verification. With Google’s 2-Step Verification, you’ll login with your regular password and then receive a special passcode via text, phone call or Google’s mobile app. Enter this second passcode to finish logging in.

As Google says, “if a bad guy hacks through your password layer, he’ll still need your phone to get into your account.”

 

 

What Do You Think?

Have you been hacked by spammers? Do you use 2-Step Verification or do you think it’s overkill? Share your thoughts in the comments.

 

See Also

4 Tips That Explain How To Avoid Phishing Scams and Email Spam
The 9 Bad Email Habits That Expose You to Scams and Identity Theft
Google Docs Phishing Scam Could Steal Your Email Info

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Author:

Miranda Perry is the staff writer for Scambook.com, where she blogs about consumer issues, fraud and cyber security. She hopes to inspire readers to think critically about the world around them and take action to improve their lives.

Comments

  1. paul palmer

    I had to get rid og g mail because google was giveing out imformation about me and were working with the people who scamed me and were giveing out imformation about me I have the proofe in writeing about what they were doing it seems funney they are so conserned about scams now the people they were working with must have double crossed them and now are trying to hide it google gave me a hard time when they gave out information about me I had to change email accounts to stop them

    Reply

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