Recent Gmail Update Heightens Security, Bars JavaSript Attachments

Of the email service providers, Google Mail or Gmail is one of the most widely-used with over one billion downloads. Perhaps, this web-based email service provider because on top of its unique features, it is also serious about security. Over the years, Gmail has received several updates to address vulnerabilities and fix bugs.

A little over a week ago, Gmail has discontinued support on JavaScript attachments. This was weeks after Google made an announcement that .js files that are sent to Gmail as attachments will no longer be allowed. It can be remembered that .msc, .bat and .exe files were already blocked from the email service provider.

The decision was made due to security reasons. While JavaScript in itself is not harmful, there had been multiple instances in which hackers were able to use it to download malware and ransomware on computer. If the attachment is clicked by the user, malware will automatically be downloaded and infect the system.

What is interesting about this new update is that Gmail is not only capable of detecting if .js file is attached. It can also track down one even though it is hidden in a zip, .gz or .bz2. Other attachments that are under fire include archives with password protected listed file and those which has password-protected archives and documents with malicious macros.

JavaScript Workaround

Despite the update, Google also took into consideration the good intent of those who have no other option but to send .js files. For this to be possible, the sender has to do so via Google Cloud Storage or Google Drive. This is because files sent through Cloud services will automatically be scanned for malware and viruses. If infected, these attachments cannot be sent or shared.

Meanwhile, the latest Gmail version for Android was released in January. While there were no new features added, Gmail version 7.1.15 came with bug fixes. And in another development, the support for Chrome version 53 has also been pulled out to ward off potential security threats.

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