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Computers/ Technology

Google Says No More Spam

As much as we love the Internet, there are some of those annoying little quirks that can get on our nerves when we feel we’ve had too much of it. Alongside those pop-up ads that are blocking your view and you aren’t always too keen to see, spam is another problem that seems to have no end. Who likes deleting these bothersome emails from who-knows-where right? Not only are they time-consuming to delete but they can pose a security risk as well to gullible users who don’t think twice before opening them and end up introducing a dangerous malware into their system.

Fortunately, you don’t get that much spam mail with a Gmail account. The site in itself exercises stringent security measures that protect its users from malicious contents. And Gmail recently takes their security measures to the next level in the wake of widespread ransomware attacks by including features that can detect phishing with an accuracy rate of almost 99.9%.

Google today said that its machine learning models can now detect spam and phishing messages with 99.9 percent accuracy.

While this still means that one out of a thousand messages gets through (so Barrister Jon Price still has a decent chance of getting to inform you of that random online lottery winning of £552,000,00 you weren’t expecting), the company argues that this is a pretty good number. And I guess that’s true, given that according to Google’s own data, 50-70 percent of messages that Gmail receives are spam. These detection models also integrate with the Google Safe Browsing tools for detecting links to malicious URLs.

To further improve its phishing-detection performance, Google also built a system that delays some Gmail messages for a little bit longer to perform more detailed phishing analysis. Because phishing attempts are more easily detected when you look at them in aggregate, Google will delay some of these suspicious messages to perform a deeper analysis as more data comes in over time and as its algorithms update in real time. This should only apply to about 0.05 percent of messages, though.

(Via: https://techcrunch.com/2017/05/31/google-says-its-machine-learning-tech-now-blocks-99-9-of-gmail-spam-and-phishing-messages/)

Gmail’s existing machine learning already takes care of spam protection but has now included phishing protection by conducting regular rigorous phishing analysis. They do this by delaying certain messages giving the technology enough time to perform the analysis and weed out spam emails.

One form of proactive defense? Notifying webmasters and email senders when they haven’t taken steps to secure and authenticate their sites and activity, or when something happens on their site that they may not know about. “It’s a rising trend for bad actors to not just create their own websites for the sole purpose of hosting malware and phishing, but to compromise others, and then leverage that hacked site to host their own content” says Safe Browsing’s Miller. Doing so lets bad actors leverage another party’s solid reputation. Google’s feedback can make webmasters and email senders aware that they’ve been compromised and that they’re unintentionally engaging in abusive behavior.

It also wouldn’t be a Google effort without a little machine learning thrown in. Somanchi says that upwards of 95 percent of all spam and phishing identification comes from machine learning. And in the past couple of years, these Gmail mechanisms have evolved to incorporate both traditional supervised learning, in which algorithms are trained on large data sets, with newer unsupervised learning techniques, in which algorithms learn through inference about how to tell legitimate inputs from malicious ones. “Whereas regular computers are making very hard black or white decisions, deep learning opens up the possibility to be more subjective and get closer to approximating, essentially, would humans fall for this?” Risher says.

(Via: https://www.wired.com/2017/05/inside-googles-global-campaign-shut-phishing/)

While many are thrilled for the new Gmail security upgrade, others are concerned about the unwarranted access to their sensitive information contained in many of their emails. However, Gmail guarantees that a user’s private data remains safe and sound during this analysis because they mainly observe aggregate data and identify attacker’s methods and no other human can view these sensitive details that the machine analyzes. Gmail uses anti-phishing defenses and Safe Browsing systems to determine the patterns of these attacks and put a stop to them as soon as possible. Rest assured that Gmail will take care of those spams for you and save you the trouble from having to delete it yourself.

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