Google’s email service provider has a lot of features that come packed with the free accounts. Some of these features remain veiled to a normal user. Today, we will look at the Gmail malware scan feature. This feature helps fight spam alongside detecting malicious content hidden in emails. This malicious content has either text links or simple attachments that look normal.
Let us see what the Gmail malware scan feature is and how you can use it to keep yourself secure from attacks. We will discuss in detail what kind of security features your Gmail account comes with. We will look at some quick tips and tricks to avoid unintentionally downloading a malicious software that comes with emails. But first, let us establish a basic understanding of malware.
What is malware?
The word malware comes from a combination of “malicious” and “software”. Malware is a suspicious software that performs actions to compromise your data security without your knowledge. Today, malware is on a new rise. Malware attacks are not only increasing in number but they are also getting smarter. This is bad news for a novice internet user who has no or very little understanding of complicated viruses. Luckily, Gmail malware scan feature comes a lot handy but of course it has limitations.
Malware may primarily come with an email in two ways. The first is a link to an external website. The user receives a genuine-looking email that has some text asking to click. Once the user intentionally or unintentionally clicks the link, a download starts in the background. This size of this download might vary depending on the type of malware. Some malware programs are under 100 kilobytes. There are others that are up to 10 megabytes in size.
The second way a user may receive a malware is a zip folder. Again, just like in the case of text email with a link, these kinds of emails have genuine looking text. The email encourages the user to download the zip folder that comes as an attachment.
In either case, the user is potentially at risk.
How does malware affect a user?
The offenses of malware range from password theft to unsolicited data transfer to some remote server. This data can be confidential user information, credit card details, health records, private pictures, and videos, etc. Once such data lands in the hands of a hacker, it is just a matter of time that the user starts to get blackmailed. In fact, most of the private data theft is linked to online blackmailing.
A lot of times, the emails accounts are hacked and used for similar kind of attacks. Using hacked accounts allows the hijackers to penetrate into the close circle of friends and family of the account owner.
Imagine getting an email from a friend or a family member asking you to open a link or download an attachment. It would be even more authentic when you compare it to some random email, right? This is why hacked email accounts of real users are potentially farms of spreading a whole chain of malware.
Among the other ways that might affect a user is a personal computer getting compromised. This includes data transfer without permission. Some malware infects the operating system. This slows down the computer or even corrupts the operating system entirely.
The hazard of malware doesn’t stop here. Unless a user is not using some kind of malware protection, it will remain in the system and keep exposing private data to the hackers.
How is Gmail Malware Scan helpful?
Tackling such dangerous virus would have been a nightmare. Fortunately, Gmail has come up with a solution to warn the users about emails containing malware. The Gmail malware scan feature detects suspicious emails with links to malware websites. It also scans zip files and warns the users about any malware that it might contain.
A lot of times such emails don’t even land in your inbox. Gmail uses a huge malware database to detect potentially risky software linked in emails and silently puts it in the spam folder.
Sometimes, the size of the zip folder is too large for Gmail to scan and inform about any vulnerability. In such cases, Gmail warns users to download the contents at their own risk. Gmail scans zip folder up to 20 MB within a few seconds of opening the email, however, bigger files might take time.
Here are a few tips that would help you stay safe in such situations.
Before opening an email, make sure check the sender’s email address. If it looks suspicious hosted on an uncommon domain, you can decline it right away. Another good way to detect malware manually is by judging the subject of the email. For example, if the subject line tells about some kind of product deliver and you are not expecting such a delivery, it’s better not be curious.
Another useful way is to activate the default security software that comes with operating systems like Windows 10, Windows 8.x, Windows 7, etc. Just update the virus definition and the software will alert whenever a threat is detected. Alternatively, a dedicated anti-malware software can be installed to add an additional layer of security.
A final take on the Gmail Malware Scan feature
Malware can be really dangerous for the security of your email as well as your personal computer. Although Gmail gives a number of layers of security to keep users safe from email scams, it is mandatory to be aware of the latest vulnerabilities with a little web research.
It is certain that hackers will always lurk around the cyberspace trying to find loopholes and use those for illicit activities like stealing private data. A normal Gmail user can stay away from the threats of malware by following the tips, tricks and best practices explained above. With a little effort from the user side, it is absolutely possible to fight against the most complicated and advanced malware threats. It is just a matter of how good you understand the threats, keep yourself updated about the latest malware and implement the right method to restrict such software.