Serious Warning Issued For Millions Of Google Gmail Users

07/04 Update below. This post was originally published on July 2

While Google has dropped some Chrome bombshells in recent weeks, Gmail users have had a tougher time. And it just got a lot worse. 

dangerous messages direct to users’ inboxes

PA Images via Getty Images

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Picked up by the always-excellent Android Police, Gmail appears to be suffering from a widespread problem with its email filters which is causing potentially dangerous, exploitative and NSFW messages to be sent directly to users’ inboxes. Furthermore, while Google has recently recognized Gmail problems “affecting a significant subset of users” it now lists the service as fully operational, when one look at Reddit or Twitter makes it clear this is far from the case. 

“Why did the gmail spam filters break?!” – source

“Did gmail’s spam filter and category function just completely shut down for anyone else? Everything’s now going straight to the primary inbox.” – source

“Are @gmail’s spam filters broken? I’ve had a sudden influx of some crazy #NSFW spam in my inbox! What’s going on #Gmail?” – source

“It is a strangely comforting thing that I can just search for “gmail” and immediately Twitter provides me with evidence that yes, others are getting weirdly hit with spam right now” – source

07/04 Update: Google has responded to my inquiry and acknowledged the problem, surprisingly pointing out that the spam flaw was actually part of a bigger issue which caused Gmail emails to be delayed, both when sent and received. The consequence of this was “some messages were delayed enough that they resulted in delivery without all spam checks completing.” Most importantly, Google states that “During this time, scans to filter malware and the most egregious spam and harmful content remained fully operational.” Google says the issue has now been resolved. That said, it is worth nothing that some users are still reporting spam problems in Gmail (1,2,3,4,5,6,7 etc) so you should remain cautious, both when opening unfamiliar new email and going through older messages that may have arrived during the main outage.

For the tech savvy, a flurry of spam hitting your inbox is something which can be navigated. But everyday users could be caught out by some of the more sophisticated malware and exploitation strategies these emails can contain. After all, there’s a reason Gmail (usually) works so hard to keep these messages from your inbox. 

I have contacted Google about this and will update the post when I know more.  

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I am an experienced freelance technology journalist. I have written for Wired, The Next Web, TrustedReviews, The Guardian and the BBC in addition to Forbes. I began in

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I am an experienced freelance technology journalist. I have written for Wired, The Next Web, TrustedReviews, The Guardian and the BBC in addition to Forbes. I began in b2b print journalism covering tech companies at the height of the dot com boom and switched to covering consumer technology as the iPod began to take off. A career highlight for me was being a founding member of TrustedReviews. It started in 2003 and we were repeatedly told websites could not compete with print! Within four years we were purchased by IPC Media (Time Warner's publishing division) to become its flagship tech title. What fascinates me are the machinations of technology's biggest companies. Got a pitch, tip or leak? Contact me on my professional Facebook page. I don't bite.

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