Iranian state-sponsored hackers have discovered ways to infiltrate the Gmail, Yahoo, and Outlook inboxes of at least two dozen high-profile users and download their content, according to a report from the Google Threat Analysis Group (TAG).
The government-backed group known as Charming Kitten originally developed a hacking tool called Hyperscape in 2020 and has used it to orchestrate the recent cyberattacks. TAG was able to get a hold of a version of this tool for analysis, TechRadar reported.
Google explained that the attack works in a stealth fashion where there is no typical hacking ritual, such as tricking a user into downloading malware. Instead, hackers control the tool from their end, taking advantage of vulnerabilities, such as compromised account credentials or stolen session cookies, in order to access an account.
While this particular cyberattack may have been politically motivated, Google is clearly interested in how these vulnerabilities might be used by others in the future.
A recent report from Sophos details how cookie stealing is among the latest trends in cybercrime. Hackers use the method to bypass security measures such as multifactor authentication and access private databases.
In this case, once logged into the email account, hackers use the tool to trick the email service into thinking a browser is outdated, which then switches it to a basic HTML view. Then it changes the inbox language to English and opens emails individually to begin downloading them in a .eml format. The hackers then mark any opened emails as unread and delete any warning emails, set the inbox back to its original language, and exit.
Despite its seemingly smooth execution, Google has learned a lot about the cyberattacks and has notified all of the known accounts that were affected through its Government Backed Attacker Warnings. TAG has deciphered that the tool was written in .NET for Windows PCs and noted attacks might work differently in Yahoo and Outlook inboxes. At this time, the security group has only tested the tool in Gmail.
Gmail is up there as one of the world’s most well-known email services, so you’re likely already familiar with the basic functionality of it, whether that’s sending important reports for work or sharing silly cat photos with friends. However, there are some features hidden in Gmail that you may not know exist.
Did you know that you could send disappearing emails or make Gmail feel a bit more like Outlook, directly through Gmail on the web? We got you covered with the secrets. Here are seven things you didn’t know you could do in Gmail.
Send self-destructing emails
If you’re ever used Snapchat, then you know how disappearing messages work. Set a time limit, send it, the person sees it and it is gone! But did you know the same can also apply to Gmail, too? This is known as “Confidential Mode.”
To use Confidential Mode in Gmail, all you need to do is compose an email message, and write it as you normally would through the compose button in the sidebar. Then, when you see the compose window open up, choose the icon that has a lock and the clock. You’ll then see a new window letting you choose how long the message will last before it expires. Choose the options as you please.
Anyone who gets the email won’t be able to forward, copy, print, or download it. This is a great option for emails that might have sensitive content.
Speed up the process of deleting your emails with auto-advance
Next on our list is a trick to speed up the process of deleting emails in Gmail. This can be useful for you if you have a lot of messages in your inbox and want to get to inbox zero quickly. To speed things up, you can enable the auto-advance feature. With this, Gmail won’t send you back to your inbox each time you delete an opened message. This saves you a few clicks when moving through your inbox.
To enable auto-advance, head into your Gmail settings and then choose to See All Settings. Under the General tab, you’ll then want to click Advanced. You should then see the Auto-advance box. Click it, and then choose Enable. Your inbox will now flow a lot better!
Schedule your emails
There comes a time when you might want to schedule your emails for some reason. You might be planning a vacation and want to send something ahead of time, or you might want to plan a surprise email for a birthday or something else. Gmail makes this easy with “Schedule Send”
Getting started with Schedule Send is easy. Just compose your message as normal, and then choose the down arrow next to the send button. This will allow you to pick a specific time to send that email, either tomorrow morning, the afternoon, and other times of your choice. Time is money, so give it a try!
There might be a moment when you want to unsend an email in Gmail. Perhaps it was an angry message sent to your boss or an honest mistake that you made. Just like in the Outlook app, Google gives you a short period of time to unsend a message. Just be aware that it is just a few seconds and not minutes like it is on Outlook.
You can recall a message in Gmail by looking at the Message sent icon when you send out a message. There will be an option to Undo, but it only shows up for a few seconds. If you’re not fast enough, the message will go through anyway.
Have Google complete your messages for you
Feeling a little lazy? When you’re sending emails all day, there might come a time when you don’t want to type out the same phrase over and over. Google has your back with a feature known as “Smart Compose.” Thanks to this feature, you’ll see writing suggestions that can save time when drafting up an email.
Smart Compose is usually turned on by default, but if you’re not seeing it, click the settings cog at the top right corner of the screen, and then See all settings. From there, under General, scroll down to Smart Compose and look for the option. We’re talking about the web-based version of Gmail, but Google’s support page has instructions for all other platforms.
Smart Compose will autocomplete some sentences for you. Say, suggesting a meeting time, or phrases like “Will do” or “Got it.” You even can sometimes see custom Smart Compose phrases based on your writing style, thanks to Google’s artificial intelligence.
Make Gmail look like Outlook with the Reading Pane
One of the reasons people like using the Outlook Desktop application has to do with the way it displays emails. You can see a full list of emails on the left, and then a preview of said emails on the right after you click on it. This is something that Gmail actually does, too, and it’s known as the Reading Pane.
Reading Pane isn’t turned on by default in Gmail, but once it is enabled, your viewing experience is really improved. You can view your emails and respond without having to open a new window.
To enable Reading Pane, click the settings gear icon at the top of your inbox to summon the Quick Settings panel. From there, head down to the Reading Pane, and select Right of inbox to show the previews at the right of your inbox. If you like, you also can choose Below Inbox to split the view and show the previews vertically, too. You’ll need to refresh the tab to apply the changes.
Mute annoying email threads
Did you get stuck in an email thread you just want to stop getting notifications about, but don’t want to delete? Google has you covered with a “mute” feature. To use the feature just takes a few clicks. Just hit the three vertical dots at the side of the email, and then choose Mute. After that, the message moves into your archives folder, where you’ll still see it and all the other replies attached to it.
There are many ways to share photos these days and most use social media for that purpose. Of course, those are mostly public by default and harder to control, and some resort to just sharing links to their online photo storage in private. Still, others go old-school and send photos by email. That can be a hassle for recipients if they end up having to upload images to Google Photos anyway but, fortunately, Google has finally heard the cries of Gmail users or at least some of them.
Some might actually remember the old days when you could actually send those photo attachments to your Google Photos from Gmail. That, however, was only possible because of how Google Drive and Google Photos shared storage space once upon a time. While Gmail still integrates with Drive, users had to go a roundabout way and download the images before uploading them to Google Photos.
The good news is that they no longer have to do that. With a new update that’s happening server-side, Gmail users can hover over those attachments or click on the overflow menu to select “Save to Photos”. This will instantly send those photos to the Google Photos storage of the user’s Gmail account.
The bad news is that there are quite a few caveats. The most important is that it is currently available only for images in JPEG format. It also seems to apply only to Gmail on the web but these limitations will probably be slowly removed over time.
This new capability is open to Google Workspace and G Suite customers as well as those with personal Google accounts but it will take about 15 days before it becomes visible to most. Curiously, this feature to easily add more photos to your Google Photos storage comes at a time when Google is also killing free unlimited storage from Google Photos.
This morning a variety of Google services had a bit of a kerfuffle. Status for Google Drive, Google Dogs, Google Sheets, Google Slides, and Classroom were marked by Google as having a “Service Outage.” Per the Google Workspace Status Dashboard, it was only these services that were having a full “outage.” However, a significant number of Gmail users reported issues starting at around 8AM central time.
Taking a peek at sites like DownDetector this morning we see a set of Google services with a significant number of issues reported starting at around 8AM central time. This set also includes Google Meet, and the Google search engine. It’s important to note, though, that when more than one Google property has issues, it’s possible (and quite likely) that a site like DownDetector will get reports about the Google search engine when in actuality it’s one of Google’s many services that are actually on the fritz.
In this case, it would seem that Google Workspace services are largely the ones having the actual, real issues. Students across the United States are seeing Google Classroom issues with “Assignments” for the most part. The most common report of issues with Google Drive is “app not loading.”
Gmail complaints rest largely in log-in and “website,” which seems to indicate that Google’s problems this morning stem largely from server issues. If a Google service is down for you, let us know! Or just pop in to the Google app status board to see if the red lights are still blinking – or if it’s all fixed!
UPDATE: It would seem that issues are subsiding somewhat – or that we’ve reached a lull in reports about the services that’ve had issues so far today. Cross your fingers this means a fix is near!
While it might not be necessary for personal emails or when you’re sharing funny cat videos with family members, a lot of Gmail users like to have an email signature for business reasons. Rather than typing out your phone number or contact information every time, Gmail will do all the legwork for you.
Since this isn’t a default option, you’ll need to head into your Gmail settings to add or change an existing Gmail signature.
How to add a signature on your desktop
Step 1: Launch your favorite browser and log into your Gmail account as you normally would.
Step 2: Next, click the Settings gear icon the upper-right corner of the screen, and then click on the See All Settings button.
Step 3: Under the General tab, scroll down until you see Signature. Click on the Create New button.
Step 4: In the dialogue box that pops up, enter a name for your new signature. Then click Create. Then, you’ll be taken back to the Settings screen, and a new text box will appear next to your signature’s name. Type your desired email signature into this text box.
Optional: Below the signature field, you’ll see a check box that allows you to add your signature before quoted text in email replies. This will make your signature more visible in email threads. It’s worth toggling on if you’re using your email for professional correspondences or if you want your signature to remain visible in follow-up messages. This section below the signature field also contains two other drop-down menu options that allow you to choose if your signature shows up in new emails or in replies and forwarded emails.
Step 5: After you’re satisfied with your signature, scroll to the bottom of the page and click the Save Changes button. That’s it! Your signature will now appear on all new messages and outgoing mail.
If you have an email address from Yahoo, Outlook, or another email service, you can also send emails via that address using Gmail’s Send Mail As feature. You can set that feature up from within your account settings, and once you do, you’ll be able to create a different signature for that email address. Just click the drop-down menu that appears within the Signature section of the Settings page’s General tab. You should see this menu underneath the phrase Signature Defaults. Choose your preferred email address from that menu. Then, from the drop-down menus beneath that menu, choose your preferences for new emails, replies, and forwarded emails. When you’re done, scroll down, and click Save Changes.
How to add a signature on your Android or iOS device
Keep in mind that you won’t be able to personalize this app on your mobile device to the extent that you can on your computer. Plus, the signature you set up on the app will only appear when you send email messages from that same device, so you will have to set up your signature on each device separately.
Here’s how to customize your signature via the Gmail smartphone app.
Step 1: Download the Gmail app to your phone and launch it as you would normally.
Step 2: Tap the Three Horizontal Lines (also known as the hamburger menu) in the upper-left corner.
Step 3: Tap the Settings option in the resulting pane. You’ll need to scroll down to see it.
Step 4: Select the account you want to add a signature for by tapping on the entry. Note: if you only have one email account connected, it will be your only choice.
Step 5: On your iOS device: Click Signature Settings, then hit the option to enable Mobile Signature. For Android devices: Tap on the Mobile Signature option (you can find it under the General section).
Step 6: Type your signature the way you want it.
Step 7: On iOS: When you’re finished, tap Back to save your newly-minted signature. With Android: After your signature looks exactly right, tap OK so it will save your updates.
Customizing your Gmail signature might inspire you to change other things in your Google account, like away messages, filtering, and even the look of your mailbox background. There are several other ways to customize your Google email account. For starters, check out our guide on how to change your Gmail account photo. With just a little work on your part, your Google profile will be cohesive, professional, and convenient everywhere you’re on the web.
Email is a powerful tool in the modern world. It’s used not only for professional correspondence but also for a variety of other purposes, including messages from your school or university, keeping in touch with distant friends or family, sending digital files, or just generally keeping track of your online accounts and purchases. The ease of sending email, and the fact that many people have more than one email address, means your inbox(es) can quickly fill with spam.
While you can unsubscribe from mailing lists through Google, you might still receive unwanted emails. Gmail users who want to shut out this noise can do so with just a few clicks. Here’s how to block an email address in Gmail.
Blocking a particular email address through Gmail means you will no longer receive messages from that account in your inbox. It’s an all-or-nothing kind of thing. If you want to receive certain messages from that address but not others, you’ll have to put up with deleting a few emails every now and then.
If you are on a computer
Step 1: First, navigate to your Gmail inbox and open an email from the sender you would like to block.
Step 2: In the upper-right corner of the email — on the same horizontal plane as the sender’s name and address — is an icon made up of three vertically stacked dots. Click on the Dots icon to open a drop-down menu. From this menu, select Block [sender’s name], which should appear near the middle of the list.
It’s that easy! Now, any messages that address sends you will automatically be directed to your spam folder.
If you are on a smartphone
Step 1: The process works the same on smartphones, although the interface looks a bit different. First, open the email from the sender you want to block.
Step 2: In the upper right corner (of the message, not the app itself), there will be a button marked with three vertical dots (horizontal dots if you’re on iOS). This button is also located on the same horizontal plane as the name of the email’s sender. Select the dots icon to open the drop-down menu.
Step 3: Next, choose Block [sender’s name]. You’ll now no longer receive messages from that email address.
When unsubscribing from a mailing list isn’t enough, blocking is an excellent way to help reduce the madness of unwanted messages in your inbox.
You will use the same drop-down menu you employed to block someone as you do to unblock them. Just select the Unblock [sender’s name] option from either interface. Both options also have a dark gray banner at the top of an email that came from a blocked sender. You can click the Unblock Sender button on this banner to unblock that address, too.
In the Gmail settings, you can find all of the addresses you’ve blocked by going to Filters and Blocked Addresses.
If you are getting emails that contain threats or harassing content, you should know that such emails are a violation of Gmail’s Program Policies and can also be a violation of cyber harassment laws.
Not only should you block these email addresses, but you should also file a police report for harassment and ask for further information about cybersecurity laws in your city.
It’s not the most fun part of your digital life, but strengthening the security of your online presence should be a top priority. Don’t know where to start? Updating your passwords regularly is a great first step, including the one used with your Google Account. If this is your first time, don’t fret: Making the change is quick and easy.
Here’s how to change your Gmail password. This guide shows you how by using the desktop website and Google’s Gmail app for Android or iOS.
Changing your password using the website
Of the two methods, this is the quickest.
Step 1: Open any desktop browser and go to the Google Account page. If you’re not already signed in, click the blue Go to Google Account button in the top right corner and enter your login details as requested. If needed, verify your identity using two-factor authentication.
Step 2: Click the Security tab listed on the left.
Step 3: Click Password listed in the Signing in to Google section.
Step 4: Enter your current password and click the blue Next button to verify your identity.
Step 5: Enter a new password in the top field, enter it again in the bottom field, and then click the blue Change Password button.
Make sure your password is complicated, with a mix of numerals, lowercase letters, capital letters, and special characters. If you’re worried about forgetting it, use a password manager. We also recommend using two-step verification to fortify your account along with password recovery options like a smartphone or a different email account.
Change your password using the Gmail app
These instructions apply to both Android and Apple devices like the iPhone and iPad. The steps are a bit longer but handy if you’re not near a computer.
Step 1: Tap to open the Gmail app.
Step 2: Tap on your Google Account icon displayed in the top right corner.
Step 3: Tap Manage Your Google Account.
Step 4: Swipe left until the screen switches to the Security page.
Step 5: Tap Password listed under Signing in to Google.
Step 6: Enter your current password and then tap Next to verify your identity.
Step 7: Enter a new password in the top field, enter it again in the bottom field, and then tap the blue Change Password button.
Changing your password is so user-friendly
You can and should change your Google Account password often, as it will help prevent hacking and other security breaches. Regularly check to see how long you’ve had your password and consider changing it if you’ve had the same one for several months. Keeping it fresh keeps hackers out of your accounts and gives you peace of mind.