Google Offers Tips on How to Protect G Suite From Phishing Attacks

Google wants to show enterprises how to protect G Suite in the wake of a phishing campaign against Gmail users earlier this year.

Google G Suite Security Tips

Google this week identified seven measures that administrators can take to protect G Suite accounts from phishing campaigns of the sort that targeted Gmail users earlier this year.

The recommendations include enforcing the use of two-factor authentication for users when they sign-in, deploying a 'Password Alert' extension for the Chrome browser and disabling the use of the POP and IMAP methods for accessing emails for those who do not require it.

In addition, Google recommended that administrators define a formal policy based on the Domain Message Authentication Reporting & Conformance (DMARC) standard and implement standard email signing to ensure that emails, which purport to originate from their domains, really are authentic.

"We work hard to help protect your company against phishing attacks—from using machine learning, to tailoring our detection algorithms, to building features to spot previously unseen attacks," Google product managers Nicolas Kardas and Sam Lugani said in a blog.

In these efforts, Google will continue to build features that give IT administrators more ways to enable stronger internal defenses against phishing attacks, they noted.

The blog included advice on some of the specific steps administrators need to take to implement the new measures. For example, the tip on implementing two-factor authentication includes advice on how to enforce the use of security keys and the information on the different devices that can be used as a second authentication factor. Similarly, the section on deploying Password Alert walks administrators through the steps needed to deploy the Chrome extension.

The phishing attack that targeted Gmail users earlier this year appears to be the impetus for this week's updates as it has been for several other G Suite phishing related updates in recent months.  The attack resulted in thousands of Gmail users around the globe inadvertently granting phishers access to their contact information after being tricked into clicking a link to a Google Doc that appeared to be from one of their contacts.

The campaign, which Google claimed affected less than 0.1% of G Suite users, prompted the company to initiate new measures to help administration protect sensitive data in their user accounts against phishing.

In July, Google added support for a new OAuth apps whitelisting feature in G Suite that the company said gave administrators a way to exert more control over how third-party applications interact with data in Google applications. With it administrators can select or whitelist apps that are permitted access to data in G Suite apps while blocking everything else.

Later that same month, Google also introduced an unverified application-screening feature that warns G Suite users when they attempt to use a brand new application or an application that Google has not had a chance to previously vet.

Now, when G Suite users encounter such apps, the unverified application feature displays a warning about potential risks and gives users the option to either use it anyway or to cancel the action.

In addition Google introduced a new anti-phishing security check that urges Android and iOS device users to use caution when they attempt to click on suspicious and potentially unsafe links in emails.

Jaikumar Vijayan

Jaikumar Vijayan

Vijayan is an award-winning independent journalist and tech content creation specialist covering data security and privacy, business intelligence, big data and data analytics.