Google Docs extends warnings about untrustworthy files and links

Google’s Office collaboration tools Docs, Sheets, Slides and Drawings now display a warning banner when you open potentially harmful files from the web, the search giant has announced. This banner already appears when untrusted files are opened from Drive, as well as from suspicious links within different Documents, Spreadsheets, Slides and Drawings. The wider rollout should help protect users in a wider range of situations.

Confusingly, Google’s January 20 announcement message said that the banner already appeared when opening links to Google Docs, Sheets, Slides, and Drawings. However, the company tells us that this was a typo and that it should instead say the banner appears on “left” by Google Docs, Sheets, Slides, and Drawings” files.

The warning banners appear to be an attempt to combat scams that use Google’s office productivity software to create a layer of authenticity around untrustworthy links and phishing attempts. in 2020, wired reported on a spate of scams that used Google’s various sharing and collaboration features to get their malicious files in front of unsuspecting users. By clicking on a link in one of these documents, a user is redirected to a site full of untrustworthy advertisements or a typical phishing site where they are asked to enter bank details or other account information.

Google’s announcement says the new warning banner will be rolled out to all accounts, both business and personal, in the coming weeks.

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