Why should you be cautious when using Google Docs?

Google Docs is a very important, well liked and useful feature. The central aim behind it is that documents can be worked on and formatted in a ‘live’ way, as well as having the ability to collaborate with other people. This makes the use perfect for business and work settings. However, users of this platform are being warned to be very careful because of some recent news which has surfaced and presented itself. This blog post will take a closer look at the problem and how it could impact you.

What is the problem?

Because of all the positive reasons above about this platform, it would seem that hackers love Google Docs, and this is the latest thing that is being targeted by them. Users are being warned of a “new massive wave” of scam, which could affect many innocent people who use the platform each day.

Essentially the issue is around the comments feature – this is where other users to a document suggest changes or reviews based on what they have seen. This then allows the author of the document to see other people’s opinion on it and make any changes or refinements as necessary. Hackers have found a way to ‘tap into’ this feature and insert comments of their own. This is often by way of a link or re-direction to an external site. The problem for the viewer is that they are unaware it is a hacker who has breached the security, as they just automatically assume it is their co-worker or other trusted individual who they share the platform with. The person will then click the link and their computer is then open to viruses and malicious activity.

We understand that when a hacker places a comment, an email gets sent to the authors account, but it displays a name only – no email address or other details of the hacker. This makes it easy for someone to appear as though they are another person, and thus it is an easy hacking technique which can cause this ‘massive wave’ of scam that has been described.

Tech experts believe that this type of scam is very clever, because it evades much of the anti-spam and filtering technology. By using a name only for example, this looks very legitimate and so can easily by-pass the filters. Coupled with this, an email which is sent from Google upon a hacker placing a malicious post looks very genuine. In fact, it is genuine – it comes from authentic Google. This only serves to catch more people out.

The problem has only very recently come to light – it was reported just on the 3rd January 2022, so we hope that as many people read this post as possible so they can become aware.

How do I protect myself?

The good news is that there are still some very basic things you can do to stop yourself falling foul.

1) Never click links if you are unsure. Instead check with the author or sender to determine that it was genuinely them.

2) If it doesn’t look or feel right it probably isn’t. A tell-tale sign in scam messages is poor or incorrect grammar for example.

3) Make use of your anti-virus software along with any safeguards that Google Docs already uses.

Now Google are aware, thankfully someone will be working around the clock to close this loophole, but until then, please be vigilant.

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