Anti-Phishing Gmail Features

Gmail is the most widely used email service with over 1.8 billion active users. Of those users, many work for small and mid-sized companies. Data shows that 60% of mid-sized companies use Gmail, and 92% of U.S. startups use Gmail, so it’s no surprise that Google is continuously working to combat malicious emails from reaching inboxes. Truthfully, their numbers are impressive. According to Google, Gmail prevents 99.9% of phishing attacks from reaching inboxes.

For the second year, phishing remains one of the top causes of data and security breaches. Cyber criminals who illegally acquire email addresses send out batches of emails disguised as emails from large companies such as Microsoft, DHL, Facebook, and others. Because these emails look legitimate, people unknowingly provide personal and often critical information to cyber criminals. According to the Verizon 2021 Data Breach Investigation Report, phishing emails were present in 36% of breaches.

You would think with all the information out there about how vulnerable our personal information is to cyber attacks, people would not only be more aware of phishing emails, but they’d be more vigilant around preventing t security breaches. Unfortunately, this is just not the case.

Last year, Terranova Security released its Phishing Benchmark Global Report which stated that 20% of the participants in the research study clicked on a phishing email, and 67% used login credentials. These numbers are significantly higher than in 2019.

Gmail users benefit from Google’s proactive approach to preventing malicious emails from landing in users’ inboxes. Here’s how Google helps protect Gmail users:

Machine Learning. Google uses machine learning which continuously evolves to detect new patterns, filter new threats, and better understand factors for high-risk users. In a study conducted with Stanford University, Google detected patterns within the distribution of phishing and malware emails. Based on these patterns and other factors, when Google recognizes a phishing attempt, it flags and quarantines potentially malicious messages.

BIMI – Brand Indicators for Message Identification. Brand Indicators for Message Identification is a new security feature that Google has recently rolled out. Since most phishing emails replicate large, well-known companies, this security feature will authenticate corporate logos using the DMARC standard. BIMI will verify logo ownership and provide proof of verification in a VMC. Once the emails pass anti-abuse checks, Gmail displays the logo in the email, letting the user know that the email is verified.

Click-time Warnings. Google uses Safe Browsing and reputation filtering for URLs to generate click-time warnings for phishing and malware links. When you click on a compromised link, Gmail will redirect to a security page titled: “Warning —phishing (web forgery) suspected.”

Gmail keeps the link active, so even with the warning, you are still able to click on the link. Google wants to take every precaution to protect you from email phishing attacks.

External Reply Warnings & Labels. The external reply warning is a Gmail feature which warns users when they are about to send an email reply to someone outside their company domain or not in their contact list. In addition, Google has added a new “External” label to email threads which contain recipients outside your organization. This feature will help prevent unintentionally sharing confidential information outside the company.

Google continues to adapt and improve its security technology to keep billions of its email users protected against cyber criminals. But we as individuals must do our part too. We must remain aware and vigilant in protecting personal information and take more precautions before responding to an email or providing sensitive personal information online.

Your network administrator can manage your Google services through the Google Admin console. From here, they can control how data is protected, monitor mobile devices, and view reports allowing you to better manage security around your data and communication.

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