Gmail insecurities: third-party companies can read private emails

Warning: third-party app developers can read business emails from Gmail accounts

Third-party developers access GmailGmail accounts can be accessed from third-party companies

According to the latest report, third-party software developers can access millions of Gmail emails without much effort. While people are tricked into believing that they are signing up for the email-based services designed to help them with shopping or travel suggestions, it was discovered that their developers could use these personal emails to gain information about people's interests. Recently, these issues with Gmail account security were discussed in the Wall Street Journal.[1]

The issue was labeled as serious because app's developers are capable of accessing different pieces of information, including the personal one. It is especially harmful to businesses since their main communication is implemented through emails. Sensitive information can be shared or leaked to unwanted sources.

However, Google has already published a response regarding Gmail's privacy protection and security policies.[2] This was published at the time of the WSJ report, but the message itself was not referencing the story directly.

Suzanne Frey, Google Cloud's director of security, claimed:

We continuously work to vet developers and their apps that integrate with Gmail before we open them for general access, and we give both enterprise admins and individual consumers transparency and control over how their data is used.

Before this report, Frey said that all apps on Gmail are forced to go through a serious check. This includes automated and manual evaluation of the developer before the third-party app can access Gmail messages. Privacy policy[3] assessments are important for making sure that it is a legitimate app and the information collected includes only the pieces that are needed.

However, many people have been registering for these services, accepting user agreements and giving their permission to access their email without realizing what they are signing up for. It seems that business professionals need to be careful while sharing precious information via email messages because it can be compromised by outside people.

Wrong timing for such reports regarding sensitive information

Back in March, data firm called Cambridge Analytica was accused of using personal information of Facebook users during the presidential election in the US. The scandal was related to 87 million users whose collected data was misused to influence voters in the US.

It seems that dealing with social media, where people reveal their data without thinking too much about that, becomes more and more dangerous. After putting your data in the public eye, there is a chance that private companies will misuse it for their own need, e.g., creating personalized advertisements[4] and selling things much easier.

You need to learn how to keep your information secure

As Frey said, third-party apps should be reviewed in multiple ways to ensure people's safety while using the platform. However, users are often giving their permission to collect their data unknowingly because of the tendency to rush thru things. You should visit the account settings more often and make sure that you are happy with how things are going there. Revoke previously granted permissions if you are not sure about them.

This is not the only thing that is threatening when talking about emails. Virus developers are also taking advantage of the widely-used platforms and services. Beware that you can find safe-looking emails in your inbox which have nothing to do with safeness. They can infect you with macro-viruses,[5] ransomware or other cyber threats that must be avoided to prevent serious consequences.

About the author
Olivia Morelli
Olivia Morelli - Ransomware analyst

Olivia Morelli is News Editor at She covers topics such as computer protection, latest malware trends, software vulnerabilities, data breaches, and more.

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