Google seems to be finally waking up to the already chronic problem of spam campaigns that target Google Drive. The search giant is now offering a simple, yet effective solution: blocking people.
Google officially acknowledged the problem of spam bombardment, but it took almost three years for the company to deploy a solution that lets GDrive users shield themselves from spam emails, shared files, and notifications.
Google Drive platform and its sharing function abused for years:
Spam on Google Drive has been a nuisance for years. This is because any individual can share files with anyone on the platform.
This has been my Google Drive this past week. I'd ask Google to figure their spam issues, but I know better than to think they give a shit. pic.twitter.com/QrSK2UUpEx
— Petey Rave (@peteyrave) July 16, 2021
Simply put, sharing files does not require the other person’s permission or consent. The only thing spammers need is a valid email address.
Incidentally, there is a “remove” button in Google Drive. However, it does not delete the shared files.
Google Drive rolling out the ability to block users that share spam [Updated] https://t.co/GkmdkxlwPl
— 9to5Google.com (@9to5Google) July 22, 2021
Ironically, the Remove button simply hides the files and emails from view. While this offers momentary relief, spam emails can and often do show up in search results and other areas.
Spam might not seem like a huge problem on Gmail. Google does a fairly good job of spotting spam emails and sending them straight to the Spam folder.
So spammers are now sending spam as shared file invites on Google Drive pic.twitter.com/33EVbL9VRR
— Matt Sephton🎴 (@gingerbeardman) July 21, 2021
However, Spam in Google Drive is causing a lot of trouble. Anyone can share a document, which results in an instant notification on a synced Android smartphone.
Even if users ban Google Drive from generating phone notifications, they will still get emails. If Gmail users block the emails, they will have to see the spam link when they click on the “Shared with me” section of GDrive.
Google finally deploys the most basic spam protection in GDrive:
The main problem is that Google did not design and deploy Drive document sharing with spam-management tools. Anyone who has the victim’s email automatically becomes an important sharer of valid documents.
Anyone can share a drive file with anyone using just an email address. Shared documents automatically show up in the victim’s Drive collection without their consent.
Google Drive's new blocking tool is here to help put an 'end' to spam At least until the attacker makes a new email address
— World Voip Center (@worldvoipcenter) July 23, 2021
Concerningly, there’s no way to turn off sharing, limit sharing to approved users, or limit it to existing contacts. Simply put, GDrive is a spammer’s delight.
Now Google is finally rolling out the most basic of spam tools to Google Drive sharing. Users can block individual email addresses.
Way too little. Way too late.
Took me a year and about $100 worth of software to completely divorce myself from the Google ecosystem because of this unblockable porn spam in my Google Drive.
Nobody at Google acknowledged nor took responsibility.
Never. Going. Back. https://t.co/nrOHbtRVLP
— 𝙹𝚘𝚜𝚎𝚙𝚑 𝙻𝚘𝚞𝚝𝚑𝚊𝚗 (@JosephLouthan) July 23, 2021
The company announced the feature in May this year, but the tool is reportedly rolling out to users over the next fortnight. Once the spam arrives in Google Drive, users will be able to click the menu button next to the item and choose “block user.”
Blocking a spammer will prevent them from sharing content with the user, remove all shares between the victim and the blocked person, and block them across several other Google services.
— John R. Sowash (@jrsowash) July 23, 2021
Blocking a sender is the most basic, and the easiest to circumvent spam protection. Spammers can easily create multiple email accounts and carry on their campaigns.
Needless to add, Google will have to fundamentally alter the way the Google Drive sharing function works to block spammers. Since Gmail already has a powerful spam filter, the company could borrow the same and improve GDrive.