Sunday, January 29, 2012

Landing another blow against email phishing

Email phishing, in which someone tries to trick you into revealing personal information by sending fake emails that look legitimate, remains one of the biggest online threats. One of the most popular methods that scammers employ is something called domain spoofing. With this technique, someone sends a message that seems legitimate when you look at the “From” line even though it’s actually a fake. Email phishing is costing regular people and companies millions of dollars each year, if not more, and in response, Google and other companies have been talking about how we can move beyond the solutions we’ve developed individually over the years to make a real difference for the whole email industry.

Industry groups come and go, and it’s not always easy to tell at the beginning which ones are actually going to generate good solutions. When the right contributors come together to solve real problems, though, real things happen. That’s why we’re particularly optimistic about today’s announcement of, a passionate collection of companies focused on significantly cutting down on email phishing and other malicious mail.

Building upon the work of previous mail authentication standards like SPF and DKIM, DMARC is responding to domain spoofing and other phishing methods by creating a standard protocol by which we’ll be able to measure and enforce the authenticity of emails. With DMARC, large email senders can ensure that the email they send is being recognized by mail providers like Gmail as legitimate, as well as set policies so that mail providers can reject messages that try to spoof the senders’ addresses.

We’ve been active in the leadership of the DMARC group for almost two years, and now that Gmail and several other large mail senders and providers — namely Facebook, LinkedIn, and PayPal — are actively using the DMARC specification, the road is paved for more members of the email ecosystem to start getting a handle on phishing. Our recent data indicates that roughly 15% of non-spam messages in Gmail are already coming from domains protected by DMARC, which means Gmail users like you don’t need to worry about spoofed messages from these senders. The phishing potential plummets when the system just works, and that’s what DMARC provides.

If you’re a large email sender and you want to try out the DMARC specification, you can learn more at the DMARC website. Even if you’re not ready to take on the challenge of authenticating all your outbound mail just yet, there’s no reason to not sign up to start receiving reports of mail that fraudulently claims to originate from your address. With further adoption of DMARC, we can all look forward to a more trustworthy overall experience with email.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Tech tips that are Good to Know

(Cross-posted from the Official Google Blog)

Does this person sound familiar? He can’t be bothered to type a password into his phone every time he wants to play a game of Angry Birds. When he does need a password, maybe for his email or bank website, he chooses one that’s easy to remember like his sister’s name—and he uses the same one for each website he visits. For him, cookies come from the bakery, IP addresses are the locations of Intellectual Property and a correct Google search result is basically magic.

Most of us know someone like this. Technology can be confusing, and the industry often fails to explain clearly enough why digital literacy matters. So today in the U.S. we’re kicking off Good to Know, our biggest-ever consumer education campaign focused on making the web a safer, more comfortable place. Our ad campaign, which we introduced in the U.K. and Germany last fall, offers privacy and security tips: Use 2-step verification! Remember to lock your computer when you step away! Make sure your connection to a website is secure! It also explains some of the building blocks of the web like cookies and IP addresses. Keep an eye out for the ads in newspapers and magazines, online and in New York and Washington, D.C. subway stations.

The campaign and Good to Know website build on our commitment to keeping people safe online. We’ve created resources like privacy videos, the Google Security Center, the Family Safety Center and Teach Parents Tech to help you develop strong privacy and security habits. We design for privacy, building tools like Google Dashboard, Me on the Web, the Ads Preferences Manager and Google+ Circles—with more on the way.

We encourage you to take a few minutes to check out the Good to Know site, watch some of the videos, and be on the lookout for ads in your favorite newspaper or website. We hope you’ll learn something new about how to protect yourself online—tips that are always good to know!

Update 1/17: Updated to include more background on Good to Know.