Thursday, February 7, 2013

Think Your Friend’s Gmail Account Was Hacked? Report to Google

Almost two years ago, Microsoft introduced a feature that allowed friends to report hacked Hotmail accounts directly to the company. When someone’s email account gets hacked, it’s usually the friends who start noticing unusual activity. It starts with spam messages with extraordinary stories of their friend stranded abroad with no cash. Will they wire some money to a strange address, please? It’s an old trick and is surprisingly effective. A Hotmail user could report such emails by selecting an option called “My friend’s been hacked!” from the “Mark as” button. This sends an alert to Microsoft. The attacker is blocked from accessing the account, and then the real user can start the account recovery process.

Recently, Lifehacker writer Adam Pash stumbled upon a not very well known feature on Gmail that seems to have been inspired from Hotmail.

If you start receiving spam from your contacts, you can mark the email as suspicious. Doing thus will mark the message as ‘sent from a compromised account’, and a report will be sent to the Gmail team. Your contact's account will not be penalized and you'll continue to receive messages from this account in the future. Reporting accounts will help Google improve their detection of compromised accounts, but whether or not it will allow the victim to recover their account is not very clear.

This option is available when you click on the “Spam” button at the top of the email.


If the sender is one of your contacts, you will see an alert box like the one shown below.


If you believe that the message is not a scam or malicious but you simply did not want to receive it, click on “Message is just spam” instead to mark it as as spam and to make the alert disappear.

Do note that you can report suspicious accounts only when the sender is in your Gmail contact list. If the sender is not in your contact list, clicking the “Spam” button simply removes the message from your inbox and into the spam folder.


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