Gmail now blocking email w/ suspicious letter combinations to protect against scammers

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Google announced today that it’s adding a new feature to its spam filtering support in Gmail that will help it protect against possible scams and spam as it introduces support for non-latin characters. Google announced earlier this month that it was adding support for the non-latin characters in email addresses (like accented characters and those written in a script like Chinese), and that it hoped the rest of the industry would follow to offer a seamless mail experience in various languages. Google said today, however, that with the new feature comes the possibility of new scams taking advantage of similarities in characters:

Scammers can exploit the fact that ဝ, ૦, and ο look nearly identical to the letter o, and by mixing and matching them, they can hoodwink unsuspecting victims. Can you imagine the risk of clicking “ShဝppingSite” vs. “ShoppingSite” or “MyBank” vs. “MyBɑnk”?

To protect against these possible scams, Gmail will now block emails with suspicious letter combinations based on an open standard from the Unicode Consortium:

To stay one step ahead of spammers, the Unicode community has identified suspicious combinations of letters that could be misleading, and Gmail will now begin rejecting email with such combinations. We’re using an open standard—the Unicode Consortium’s “Highly Restricted” designation—which we believe strikes a healthy balance between legitimate uses of these new domains and those likely to be abused.

Google says the changes are rolling out to Gmail users starting today.

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