Gmail offers excellent spam and malware protection to help keep dangerous stuff out of your inbox. And while good — Google claims its filters block 99.9 percent of threats — there’s always room for improvement.
One such area is documents, which comprise a whopping 58 percent of malware targeting Gmail users. Office documents make up the majority of that and Android Police notes that those malicious documents can be particularly hard to pin down due to their ever-changing nature.
So, Google did as Google does and released an improved document malware scanner that uses machine learning (ML) to stay on top of malicious documents. Since releasing the new scanner at the end of 2019, Google says it saw a 10 percent increase in malicious Office document detections.
Further, the new scanner performs well against “adversarial, bursty attacks,” which can be difficult for ML algorithms to handle. Google says detection rates for these kinds of attacks grew by 150 percent thanks to the new scanner.
Since Office documents are the biggest issue for now, Google’s new scanner focuses specifically on those types of malicious attachments. However, the company is developing and improving the scanner, and may expand it to other, less targetted attachments in the future.
As for users, there’s nothing that you need to do to get these new protections. Google rolls them out automatically, so as long as you’re using Gmail, the protections are working in the background. The new document scanner also works in conjunction with Gmail’s other protection systems.
If you’re interested, you can learn more about Google’s document scanner on the company’s security blog.