Google Secures Gmail Images

Gmail users will no longer have to click to display images in emails, due to a new security feature

Google has upgraded its incoming email image filters so that message recipients will now get attached images automatically without having to click on them to view them.

The Gmail upgrade was announced by John Rae-Grant, product manager, in a recent post on the Official Gmail Blog.

Proxy protection

“Have you ever wondered why Gmail asks you before showing images in emails?” wrote Rae-Grant. “We did this to protect you from unknown senders who might try to use images to compromise the security of your computer or mobile device. But thanks to new improvements in how Gmail handles images, you’ll soon see all images displayed in your messages automatically across desktop, iOS and Android.”

google-london-officeThat’s because instead of serving images directly from the original external host servers outside Gmail, as in the past, all attached email images will now be served through Google’s own secure proxy servers, he wrote.

“So what does this mean for you? Simple: Your messages are more safe and secure, your images are checked for known viruses or malware, and you’ll never have to press that pesky ‘display images below’ link again,” wrote Rae-Grant. “With this new change, your email will now be safer, faster and more beautiful than ever.”

Gmail users who prefer to maintain the manual image authorisation procedure can still do so through the user settings in their Gmail accounts, he wrote. To do that, users must choose the option “Ask before displaying external images” under the “General” tab in “Settings”. For existing Gmail users who previously selected the “Ask before displaying external content,” that option will remain as their default setting, according to the post.


“Similar to existing features like default https access, suspicious activity detection and free two-step verification, image proxying is another way your email is protected,” wrote Rae-Grant. The change began rolling out this month for desktop users and will be included in Gmail mobile apps in early 2014, he added.

Google introduced some other Gmail improvements earlier in December, including the ability for Gmail and Google Calendar users to back up their Gmail and Calendar data for safekeeping or for transfer to another application or service. Google also added several new features to the Calendar service to make it easier to manage for users.

Under the changes, users will be able to export a copy of their Gmail and Google Calendar data, including all or part of the information. Users can download a single archive file for multiple products with a copy of their Gmail, Calendar, Google+, YouTube, Drive and other Google data. Users will gain the new backup functions for Gmail over the next month, while Calendar data is available to users immediately.

The other new Google Calendar features include a first-ever autocomplete function when typing in addresses for events and quicker display of related events when entering data. Other relevant events in Calendar are also now easier to spot using a new search function, which lets users find other upcoming events in their schedules. Another service improvement in Calendar is that group event guest lists will now automatically update as people join or leave a group, making it easier to manage the lists.

New Gmail features

Google is constantly adding new features and services to its Gmail and Calendar offerings.

In August, Google made it easier for users to find information they are seeking within their own Gmail, Google Calendar or Google+ accounts just by making a request using their own voice. The new feature brought capabilities that Google Now users have had for more than a year to the Google Search product and helps streamline information gathering for users. The voice search can also be used to view photographs that users have loaded into their Google+ accounts, again by asking to view the images for a specific trip.

In July, Google returned its outbound voice calling services to its Hangouts feature in Gmail, Google+ and through the Chrome browser extension after it was temporarily removed in May when Hangouts was updated. The missing voice-calling feature cropped up quickly after the new Hangouts launch when user complaints posted on Google’s blogs and Google+ pages caused the company to respond and promise the reintroduction of the service in the future.

Also in May, Google unveiled a feature that allowed users who have Google Drive, Gmail and Google+ Photo accounts to put all their files in a unified place, rather than having to maintain separate storage areas depending on what kinds of files were being stored. Gmail users also got the ability in May to send money to others by sending “cash” in an email message. The new capability became possible because Google integrated its Google Wallet payment services with Gmail, allowing users to safely and securely send up to $10,000 (£6,300) per transaction to another person.

Google’s Gmail celebrated its ninth anniversary on 1 April.

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Originally published on eWeek.