Gmail virus scanning draws some user complaints

Google's introduction of a virus-scanning feature for Gmail is drawing various complaints from users.

The virus-scanning feature Google added to its Gmail Web mail service this week has generated concern, bewilderment and disappointment among some users.

The three main complaints being aired in Gmail discussion groups are: The virus-scanning feature can't be turned off.

Gmail's long-standing virus protection -- blocking all executable file attachments -- will remain in place. Finally, Google isn't saying which vendor is providing the antivirus technology.

A Google spokeswoman said that, while Google gives thoughtful consideration to user feedback, for now it has no plans to make the antivirus feature optional, nor does it plan to stop blocking executables. She also declined to identify the source of the antivirus technology Google is using.

Disabling the virus scanning is convenient for users who may occasionally need to mail an infected file for reporting purposes to an antivirus vendor and for users who may regularly handle infected messages if they are, say, IT professionals involved in antivirus work.

William Boyle, principal software engineer at Brooks Automation in Massachusetts, doesn't foresee being very inconvenienced, but he thinks Google should give users the option to turn off the feature.

"I just do not like to lose control over what I can send and/or receive," Boyle wrote in an e-mail interview with IDG News Service. "This may be a problem if I am trying to report a virus to someone."

"I am a systems software engineer and must be able to send and receive any sort of message," added Boyle, who has been using Gmail for about six months, but not as his primary account for work or personal communications.

Meanwhile, there are users feeling disappointed that Google is keeping in place its policy of blocking all executable file attachments in Gmail. Prior to the new virus-scanning feature, this had been Gmail's virus protection method.

One of these users is Thomas Quinlen, an attorney with McNabb, Bragorgos & Burgess in Tennessee. "With virus scanning in place, the blocking is redundant," he wrote in an e-mail interview.

Quinlen, who uses Gmail as his primary e-mail account for personal communications, has felt inconvenienced by this feature whenever he has wanted to e-mail himself an application from one of his computers in order to install it in one or both of his other computers.

He has remote access to his work desktop PC from his laptop and from his home PC, he explained. "But if I am going to be disconnected from the Internet -- on an airplane, for instance -- I need the [work] application on the other [nonwork] computer," he wrote. "Given the size of attachments Gmail allows, it seems like executables should be allowed, particularly if I am e-mailing it to myself, which is really just file storage rather than sending it out over the Internet."

Although some technically savvy users are chiming in discussion groups with ways to disguise executables and trick Gmail into allowing them, Quinlen doesn't feel he has the necessary know-how to accomplish this. "I doubt I have the computer skills to even attempt to defeat [this feature]," he wrote.

Finally, a number of Gmail users are loudly wondering in discussion group threads which antivirus technology Google is licensing, as they weigh what they perceive to be the strengths and weaknesses of different vendors. The consensus among these users is that they shouldn't be in the dark regarding which antivirus company is ultimately protecting their computers.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Juan Carlos Perez

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Laura Johnston

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?