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A Google spokesperson says the company has measures in place to detect new spam attacks and stop them, but that no security measures are 100 per cent effective. The spokesperson adds that Google is working on new measures to make it harder for Google Drive spam to evade its systems. Anyone targeted by the scam can report it to Google via the company’s support page.

“It’s difficult for Google to do anything if the notification is coming from a legitimate account; which is, of course, easy to create,” says David Emm, principal security researcher at cybersecurity firm Kaspersky. He adds that, as with all phishing scams, the important is to think before you click. “Avoid clicking on unsolicited links of any kind when sent from unknown sources. If you weren’t expecting to receive it and don’t know the sender, don’t respond.”

The novel approach to tricking people into clicking on malicious links is similar to a scam that planted phishing links into Google Calendar. In that instance, phishers realised they could take advantage of a default setting in Google Calendar that let them plant their own events laced with dodgy links. As with the Google Drive scam, emails and notifications generated by the Calendar scam also came from Google.

Posts on Google community forums and social media suggest that the Drive scam has gone into overdrive in recent weeks, with some people complaining of receiving multiple notifications to collaborate on dodgy documents. Many of the documents reported to Google appear to have been deleted for violating its terms of service.

James Temperton is WIRED’s digital editor. He tweets from @jtemperton

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