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Clever new Gmail trick will keep you safe from phishing attacks and spammers

Published Aug 12th, 2014 3:20PM EDT
Gmail Security Features: Phishing and Spam

Google on Tuesday announced a new interesting update for its email service, which will hopefully help thwart scammers’ phishing email plans in the future and stop some spamming campaigns. Gmail will henceforward reject suspicious combinations of Unicode characters that could be misleading for regular users and fool them into clicking on links to sites they think they know, only to end up on a malicious page.

FROM EARLIER: Google finally adds the killer Gmail feature you’ve been waiting for

“Scammers can exploit the fact that ဝ, ૦, and ο look nearly identical to the letter o, and by mixing and matching them, they can hoodwink unsuspecting victims. Can you imagine the risk of clicking ‘ShဝppingSite’ vs. ‘ShoppingSite’ or ‘MyBank’ vs. ‘MyBɑnk’?” the company wrote on its blog, explaining that it used “a Myanmar letter Wa (U+101D), a Gujarati digit zero (U+AE6) and a Greek small letter omicron (U+03BF), followed by the ASCII letter ‘o'” in its example of how certain characters could be used in email.

“To stay one step ahead of spammers, the Unicode community has identified suspicious combinations of letters that could be misleading, and Gmail will now begin rejecting email with such combinations,” Google added.

The new security feature will be rolled out starting Tuesday, although it’s likely you won’t notice this particular Gmail functionality in your day-to-day email-related activities, as this particular trick is meant to run in the background.

Chris Smith
Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he closely follows the events in Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises. Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.