Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Go Google!

I got a rather mundane instance of "give me your bank account and credit card numbers quick before it's too late" spam today. But I noticed something new -- Gmail attached a warning to the front of it!
Warning: This message may not be from whom it claims to be. Beware of following any links in it or of providing the sender with any personal information. Learn more
Google explains their policy:
Google is currently testing a service designed to alert Gmail users to messages that appear to be phishing attacks. When the Gmail team becomes aware of such an attack, the details of these messages are used to automatically identify future suspected phishing attacks. The result: when a Gmail user opens a suspected phishing message, Gmail displays a warning. Gmail's phishing alerts operate automatically, much like spam filtering. Gmail's spam filters automatically divert messages that are suspected of being unwanted messages into 'Spam'. Similarly, Gmail's phishing alerts automatically display warnings with messages that are suspected of being phishing attacks so that users know to take care before providing any personal information.
That's a fantastic idea. I hope that other email services will follow Google's lead, here, and that far fewer people will fall prey to these ridiculous scams. It's absurd that spamming can be so lucrative. My only complaint: thanks, Google, for tagging the bad message -- by why not move it to the spam folder while you're at it?


  1. It's not entirely reliable though - I noticed they tagged the first Philosophers' Carnival newsletters I sent out, which is rather odd. I suspect at this stage they might just tag all mailing lists, but of course not all mailing lists are unsolicited junk.

  2. I get mailing list stuff all the time, and never a false positive on this one. I'm sure the service will improve as time goes on.