Categories
Security

Google makes important Workspace change to prevent phishing

Google has made an important change to how it displays comment notifications for Workspace apps, like Docs, to prevent phishing and protect users from malware. This change makes it safer for users to collaborate remotely without worrying about hacks and other types of malicious attacks, and the change is notable at a time when more people are working, learning, and collaborating from home during the global health pandemic.

With the new notification change, Google is now including the full email address of the collaborator in its notification when you receive an @mention, making it easier to safely identify your collaborator and trusted contacts.

In the past when a collaborator inserts an “@mention” note to Google Workspace apps, you would get an email in your inbox notifying you that someone has made a change to your document. The problem, however, is that the email notification only contains the commenter’s name and not their email address, making it easy for malicious attackers to target users pretending to be someone who you know and trust. Google’s change should make it easier for you to confirm your collaborator by being able to see the commenter’s email address.

“When someone mentions you in a comment in a Google Workspace document, we send you an email notification with the comment and the commenter’s name,” Google explained of the change. “With this update, we are adding the commenter’s email address to the email notification.”

Google is rolling out the feature now, and it could take up to 15 days for the update to show up for everyone. There are no additional steps users or IT administrators will need to take, according to Google’s Workspace support document. The feature will roll out to all Google accounts, including personal Google accounts as well as legacy G Suite and Business accounts.

“We hope that by providing this additional information, this will help you feel more confident that you’re receiving a legitimate notification rather than a spam or phishing attempt by a bad actor,” Google added.

As more companies begin to or continue to adopt hybrid and remote work environments, technology companies are also stepping up their efforts to help prevent malicious attacks. In addition to Google’s latest efforts to protect Workspace users, last year Microsoft released a new feature for its Teams collaboration platform that makes it more difficult for hackers to steal your personal data by sending look-alike web pages. Microsoft stated that phishing is responsible for nearly 70% of data breaches in its Digital Defense report, and recent changes made by tech companies like Google will ultimately help to keep users safe so as long as they remain vigilant and practice basic security hygiene when it comes to handling unknown links and emails from unknown senders.

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Categories
Tech News

Google Workspace is now free for everyone — here’s how to get it

Google has some good news for the cash-strapped or tight-fisted: Workspace is now available for free to every user.

Starting today, anyone with a Google account can use the integrated platform (formerly known as G Suite) to collaborate on the search giant’s productivity apps.

The service essentially provides a more integrated system for using the likes of Gmail, Chat, Calendar, Drive, and Docs.

It’s not likely to revolutionize your user experience, but it will allow you to access Google apps in one central spot, rather than having to jump between them. Workspace also introduces some nifty extra features, like smart suggestions in documents and the new “Spaces” chatrooms.

[Read: Why entrepreneurship in emerging markets matters]

In a blog post, Google said the move will “make it easy for people to stay connected, get organized and achieve more together, whether it’s advancing a cause, planning your family reunion, assigning next steps for the PTA or discussing this month’s book club pick.”

If you wanna check it, here’s how to set Workspace up:

  1. Open Gmail on your computer.
  2. Click the Settings icon near the top of the page and then “View all settings.”
  3. Tap “Chat and Meet,” and then turn on Google Chat.
  4. Hit “Save changes.”

You’re in — but if you want a more premium experience, you’ll have to pay for Google’s forthcoming subscription service “Workspace Individual.”

The Big G says this solution will introduce extra features, “including smart booking services, professional video meetings, personalized email marketing and much more.” 

The search giant is yet to reveal pricing for the product, but says it will roll out “soon in the US, Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Australia, and Japan. You can sign up here to receive updates on the Workspace Individual. I’m not planning to splash out on that, but I’m happy to get my hands on the free version.

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Categories
AI

Google Workspace gains client-side encryption amid slew of new security features

Elevate your enterprise data technology and strategy at Transform 2021.


Google on Monday announced new security features for Google Workspace and Google Drive to better ensure data security and privacy protection in hybrid work environments.

The new security tools include client-side encryption for Workspace and several enhanced data protection features in the platform’s Drive service, including more granular control over trust rules, enhanced phishing and malware protection, and the addition of integrated data loss prevention (DLP) in Drive labels.

Google director of product management Karthik Lakshminarayanan told VentureBeat that the new security features in the search giant’s enterprise collaboration platform were the result of several factors, including Google’s “security first” philosophy, the rapid increase in remote work environments due to the pandemic, and the company’s experience with its BeyondCorp zero trust security model.

BeyondCorp Enterprise, released earlier this year, is based on Google’s own internal security framework developed over more than a decade.

“Our security model has been built around the fact that just being in the office doesn’t give users any additional security. For years, we have been building the BeyondCorp model around the philosophy of being able to securely work from anywhere,” Lakshminarayanan said.

“So, if you’re out of the office and your laptop tanks, maybe you need to spin up a personal tablet or a phone to work. That’s not a managed device and now we have to take this into account and make our data access controls more granular, stricter. We have to adapt security to the conditions people actually work in.”

Putting data encryption control in customers’ hands

To this end, the introduction of client-side encryption for Workspace gives Google’s enterprise customers direct control of the encryption keys for their data, making data at rest an in transit on the platform “indecipherable to Google,” Lakshminarayanan said. The new encryption controls will be rolled out for beta testing by customers “in the coming weeks,” he said.

Previously, Google alone handled the encryption of customer data in Workspace. The new client-side encryption capabilities are aimed at organizations that need direct control over sensitive or regulated data for security and compliance reasons, such as Airbus, an early tester of the new capabilities.

In beta testing of the new feature for Google Workspace Enterprise Plus and Google Workspace Education Plus, customers will be able to choose encryption key access services from Google partners FlowCrypt, Futurex, Thales, and Virtru.

Google will first make client-side encryption available for Workspace services Drive, Docs, Sheets, and Slides, promising support for multiple file types such as Microsoft Office files and PDFs. The new controls will be made available for Google Meet in the fall of this year, with support for Gmail and Calendar also planned at an unannounced time.

Fortifying Google Drive for more secure collaboration

Google also unveiled some security enhancements for Drive, the company’s file storage and synchronization service subscribed to by more than 1 billion users around the world.

In the coming months, Workspace Enterprise and Workspace Education Plus customers will be able to access new trust rules that give IT administrators greater control over how files can be shared with Drive inside and outside of their organizations. Lakshminarayanan said the new rules allow for more customizable file-sharing permissions for organizational units and groups, in contrast with “blanket” policies available now.

Google’s Drive labels, used to classify security levels for files stored in Drive, now incorporate Google’s DLP for Workspace. With labels, users can classify content so it is stored under retention policies for different sensitivity levels set by IT administrators. Admins can also create rules to automate classification of files, using 60 new AI-powered content detectors which can identify sensitive content such as “resumes, SEC filings, patents, and source code,” according to Google.

Drive labels are available in beta now for Google Workspace Business Standard, Workspace Business Plus, Workspace Enterprise, Workspace for Education Standard, and Workspace Education Plus.

Google will in the coming weeks be adding new internal protections against phishing and malware for Drive. The file storage service currently protects against such threats from external sources, but the enhancement will add safeguards against phishing and malware that originates within an organization, whether by a malicious actor or unintentionally via user error or a compromised system. Google said all future Workspace SKUs will include the new internal phishing and malware protections.

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