Wednesday November 13, 2019
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Gmail: Google Alerts its Users About the New ‘Confidential Mode’

Central to these fears is the new "Confidential Email" feature that can require users to click a link in order to access these messages.

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Inbox
Google's mailing app 'Inbox' to discontinue from March 2019. Pixabay

Gmail users have been alerted about a new Google Mail feature which could be leveraged by online crooks to carry out a wave of scams, media reported.

The company, in April, unveiled its brand new design which introduced a clean new user interface and a swathe of new features including the ability to snooze a message, auto-generate smart replies and self-destruct emails in the brand new “Confidential Mode”.

“It’s the Confidential Mode which is at the centre of security fears,” Express.co.uk reported on Saturday.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) reportedly issued an alert on the “potential emerging threat… for nefarious activity” with the Gmail redesign, the report said.

“We have reached out to Google to inform them of intelligence relevant to their services and to partner to improve our mutual interests in cyber security,” Lesley Fulop, DHS spokesperson said.

Central to these fears was the new “Confidential Email” feature that can require users to click a link in order to access these messages.

Gmail
If you’re a Gmail user using the official Google Mail website then the “Confidential Email” appears when you click to open it, Pixabay

If you’re a Gmail user using the official Google Mail website then the “Confidential Email” appears when you click to open it. It shows a date for when the content will expire and informs the users that the email can’t be forwarded or downloaded.

However, it’s different if you’re a Gmail user viewing the message as a third-party client or a non-Gmail user who receives a confidential email.

In those cases, instead of the message appearing in their browser, users have to click a button to view the email. And this is where the security fears lie.

With the Gmail redesign, scammers could send out fake versions of confidential email alerts and trick a user into entering sensitive details.

“The tech giant is committed to protecting the security of users’ personal information and hence, had created “machine learning” algorithms to detect potential phishing scams that cyber criminals carry out,” said Google spokesman Brooks Hocog.

Also Read-Is Gmail safe? Google is Allowing Third-party App Developers to Scan Through Your Account

Phishing scams are where cyber criminals try to trick victims into clicking on seemingly trustworthy links in order to steal sensitive personal information.(IANS)

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Tech Giant Google Secretly Gathering Health Information of Millions of US Citizens

According to Google, some of the solutions it is working on with Ascension are not yet in active clinical deployment, but rather are in early testing

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Google, smart compose
The Google name is displayed outside the company's office in London, Britain. VOA

Google is reportedly gathering health information of millions of US citizens — without informing them or their doctors — to design an Artificial Intelligence (AI)-driven software, the media reported.

According to a report in The Wall Street Journal, “Google is engaged with one of the US’s largest health-care systems on a project to collect and crunch the detailed personal-health information of millions of people across 21 states” and at least 150 Google staffers may have access to the data.

St. Louis-based faith-based healthcare organisation Ascension is sharing lab results, diagnoses and hospitalisation records — as well as health histories complete with patient names and dates of birth — with Google, the report claimed.

“The initiative, code-named ‘Project Nightingale,’ appears to be the biggest effort yet by a Silicon Valley giant to gain a toehold in the health-care industry through the handling of patients medical data,” the report said.

The crunching of health data is the next big frontier for tech giants as Apple to Amazon and Microsoft are aiming big to infuse data findings into their devices and solutions in the burgeoning healthcare space.

The New York Times later wrote that “dozens of Google employees” may have access to sensitive patient data and some may have downloaded that data too.

As part of “Project Nightingale”, Ascension uploaded patient data to Google’s Cloud servers.

In a blog post, Google tried to clarify its partnership with Ascension.

privacy, google
FILE -Google CEO Sundar Pichai speaks during the keynote address of the Google I/O conference in Mountain View, Calif., May 7, 2019. VOA

“All of Google’s work with Ascension adheres to industry-wide regulations regarding patient data, and come with strict guidance on data privacy, security and usage,” said Tariq Shaukat, President, Industry Products and Solutions, Google Cloud.

Google said it has a Business Associate Agreement (BAA) with Ascension, which governs access to Protected Health Information (PHI) for the purpose of helping providers support patient care.

“To be clear: under this arrangement, Ascension’s data cannot be used for any other purpose than for providing these services we’re offering under the agreement, and patient data cannot and will not be combined with any Google consumer data,” said the company.

Ascension also issued a statement, saying it is working with Google to optimise the health and wellness of individuals and communities, and deliver a comprehensive portfolio of digital capabilities that enhance the experience of Ascension consumers, patients and clinical providers across the continuum of care.

“All work related to Ascension’s engagement with Google is HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996) compliant and underpinned by a robust data security and protection effort and adherence to Ascension’s strict requirements for data handling,” said the healthcare company.

Also Read: Microsoft to Implement California’s Digital Privacy Law Throughout the US

According to Google, some of the solutions it is working on with Ascension are not yet in active clinical deployment, but rather are in early testing.

“This is one of the reasons we used a code name for the work — in this case, Nightingale,” it added.

However, neither Google nor Ascension directly replied to the WSJ report.

In 2017, Google partnered with the University of Chicago Medical Centre to develop machine learning tools capable of “accurately predicting medical events — such as whether patients will be hospitalised, how long they will stay, and whether their health is deteriorating despite treatment for conditions such as urinary tract infections, pneumonia, or heart failure.” (IANS)