I’ve become increasingly paranoid in the last few years and have long since lost any sense of innocence or even optimism regarding email. I trust noone and am leery of using any Web-based email service, but I have been exploring Google’s Gmail service. My question to you: if someone emails me a virus will Gmail even recognize it, or do I just see it as a regular attachment? Also, how does Gmail filter spam out, if at all?
Actually, while I haven’t been impressed with everything that Google has foist upon us Internet denizens (for example Orkut seems to me like a colossal waste of time) I have to say that Gmail just keeps getting better and better.
It catches phishing attempts and warns you:
Much more helpfully, it also recognizes when attachments have a virus. For example, I got one just today that demonstrates this:
It actually won’t let you download that attachment even if you want to clean it up yourself, which I find a benefit: it ensures I don’t miss the warning and get infected anyway.
In terms of filtering spam, Gmail makes use of group behavior and counts on the fact that a spam message is typically sent to hundreds if not thousands of users, not just one. If you’re reading a message that you think is spam, you simply click on the “Report Spam” button:
Not only is the message dropped into your spam folder (which automatically deletes any spam messages more than 30 days old) but the central Gmail service records that categorization too. If enough people report a message as spam, everyone else has it automatically and correctly filed as spam rather than incoming mail without any effort at all.
My experience with this has been splendid: I would say that Gmail catches and properly filters at least 98% of my spam without me ever seeing any of it, leaving my inbox clean and full of legit email.
There isn’t a “block future email from this sender” sort of capability, I admit, but there are email filters that would let you implement that sort of thing if you were really desperate, and you could automatically delete the messages or just drop them into your spam folder.
Overall, as I said, I really like Gmail and find it the best of the online email services at this point in time.
Additional reading on Gmail:
Articles about Google’s Gmail