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Security & privacy

This new warning in Google Drive means a scammer may be after you

Millions of people use Google’s suite of productivity tools. Unfortunately, that makes them big targets for hackers. Earlier this year, criminals used the comments feature in Google Docs to spread malware.

The company is now taking steps to clamp down on files that go against its terms of service. If files are in violation of Google’s terms of service or program policies, they may be restricted.

The measure could potentially stop malware from being distributed. Read on for the new safeguards Google is putting in place to protect potential victims.

Here’s the backstory

First announced at the Cloud Next 2021 conference, Google introduced a warning system when it detects potentially harmful files in your Google Drive. The warning banner already pops up for Google Workspace users when opening suspicious Google Docs, Sheets, Slides and Drawings files.

Google Drive warning
Credit: Google

The feature is steadily rolling out to more users, although it can take a couple of weeks to reach you. Most users are on the default setting (Scheduled Release) for updates, which is available at least one week after release.

“Google will automatically evaluate any files that are shared with you from outside of your organization for phishing or malware. If detected, Google will block your access to the file in order to protect you,” the tech giant explained.

What you can do about it

The new security measure is enabled by default through Google, so there is nothing further that you need to do. Sadly, it could just be a matter of time before cybercriminals figure out a way to bypass it.

Here are some steps that you can take to ensure you don’t download files that will infect your device with malware:

  • Even if the warning isn’t displayed, never open or download files that strangers share with you.
  • When you receive an email stating that a document has been shared with you, carefully check out all the details of the mail. Ensure that it comes from someone you trust and that the sender’s email address is legitimate.
  • There are several settings in Google Drive to control what content users can share with you. If you don’t use the sharing option, you can turn it off.
  • Have trustworthy antivirus software installed on all ofyour devices. We recommend our sponsor, TotalAV. Right now, get an annual plan for only $19 at ProtectWithKim.com. That’s over 85% off the regular price.

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