If You Get This Message From Google, Delete It, Experts Warn
The tech company is alerting users to an alarming communication that's being sent out.
Google is so widely known as a search engine that its name has become synonymous with digging up information on the internet. But the tech giant also provides plenty of other essential services, including maps and directions, online file storage, mobile phones, email accounts, and even free word processing and spreadsheet programs. But now, experts are warning that many users have reported receiving a suspicious message from Google seemingly out of the blue. Read on to see which communication you should delete immediately.
A slew of security mishaps have caused issues for Google lately.
Even though Google's impressive digital infrastructure makes it one of the most valuable and trusted tech companies in the world, it hasn't been without its fair share of security issues lately. On April 12, Forbes reported that there were multiple hacks of Google's browser, Chrome. Google released a statement on its official blog the day before, confirming 11 total hacks—nine of which are categorized as "high" threats and two classified as "medium." These hacks put users at risk if they use Chrome on any platform, whether they're a PC/Windows user, an Apple/Mac fan, or loyal to the Linux desktop.
Potential security lapses have also affected users of the company's popular Android smartphones. In a recent blog post, financial cybersecurity firm ThreatFabric announced that it had discovered a dangerous new piece of malware that targets Android phones known as "Octo." The banking malware can take over a device and secretly run in the background to mine information and even commit fraud. And on March 25, Google banned dozens of apps from its Google Play download store after the tech giant was alerted to an investigation that found a company involved in the mobile programs' development was using the programs to secretly harvest data from users, The Wall Street Journal first reported.
Some Gmail users are now receiving suspicious messages from Google.
According to a report from tech blog ScreenRant, a growing number of Gmail users have been taking to a support forum with reports they had received warning messages from Google that their account was about to be shut down due to being "inactive." Many have been suspicious of the strange alert and raised questions about them being a potential "phishing" or hacking attempt on their account, referring to messages sent by hackers pretending to be from a reputable source to steal personal information or money.
"How is this possible. I use this account at least once a day," one user reported on the forum, according to The U.S. Sun. "It says it will be considered 18 months inactive if I don't log in ASAP, which I did. Have I been compromised?"
Some even reported being logged out of their accounts after receiving the messages. "I use my account every day on multiple devices," another concerned Gmail user wrote. "Please check the logic here—or does this mean we have been compromised?"
Google has responded to the reports of the strange deactivation warnings.
Fortunately, the confusing and unexpected messages don't appear to be sinister. After reaching out to Google for clarification, ScreenRant received a reply from the company explaining that "this seems to be a bug related to Google's Inactive Account Manager feature," the blog reported. "In other words, it is not a scam."
The company further explained that account holders who accidentally received messages due to the glitch had nothing to worry about. "Google support gave assurances that an inactive account warning won't affect access to Google apps or result in any loss of data," ScreenRant reported.
There are a few instances in which you should expect to receive a shutdown warning message from Google.
While the accidental messages might have made some users suspicious of a hacking attempt, they're actually a part of a service designed to keep your data secure. According to ScreenRant, the glitch comes from Gmail's Inactive Account Manager feature, which allows users to set an amount of time their account can be considered dormant before Google reaches out to a "legacy contact" to take over access in the event they become incapacitated or pass away.
But if you did happen to receive the cryptic message, there's still one thing you might want to do. "This suggests anyone who received this erroneous email might want to let their chosen contact know that there might be an alert sent to them in about a month and to disregard it," the blog recommends.