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Skull & crossbones bug in Gmail

Skull & crossbones bug in Gmail
PHOTO COURTESY OF 9TO5GOOGLE

There are so many truly creepy and dangerous malware attacks to report each day that it's nice to tell you about one that might make you smile. It's still a little creepy, though.

If you're one of the 900-plus million people who uses Google's webmail service, Gmail, you may have seen a strange looking emoji popping up on your screen. It has been affecting Gmail users who use Google's Web browser, Chrome, but also Mozilla Firefox and Microsoft Edge.

It's a little cartoon character of a skull and bones, with some unsettling words popping up when you hover your mouse over it. (The skull and crossbones looks similar to a new Apple iOS 9.1 emoji.)

You might see words like, "Component spy" or "data spy." Those certainly sound like words a hacker would use. But, why would they advertise their hack right on your screen?

As it turns out, the skull and crossbones is a symbol that Google uses internally to notate bugs in Gmail. Ironically, the company has a team of debuggers to get rid of just this kind of thing.

Next page: Google's official response
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