If someone really wants you to check out something on Google Docs, you shouldn't click the link – especially if you weren't expecting the email.
A bunch of emails are going around inviting people to view something on Google Docs, but it turns out it's probably a scam used to disguise a malware email. Redditor JakeSteam laid out what happened to him, noting the email looked legit – it even appeared to be from someone in his contacts.
JakeSteam says when you click on the fake Google Doc link, you're taken to a Google page where you're asked to pick an account. Then you're taken to a new page that asks you to allow Google Docs to access the account.
If you click allow, you're giving this fake Google Docs permission to read, send, delete and manage all your emails and contacts, and then it sends these scam emails to everyone you have ever emailed.
That's why the scam is spreading so quickly. It was trending on Twitter Wednesday afternoon, with people tweeting screen shots of the "sophisticated" phishing email, which doesn't seem to be blocked by spam filters.
It happened to one of our producers too. Within 9 minutes, he got three phishing emails – one on his Gmail account, and two on his work email (see the photo at the top of the page for what one of them looked like).
Mashable has a few tips to help you spot the fake Google Docs email. One of them is the scam emails are being sent from "email@example.com" – you can see this if you expand the sender details.
The Atlantic says this scam is tricky because it's moving so quickly and because it's not clear what it's trying to do. Phishing emails are usually used to gain access to a person's email or accounts, but the publication says the motivation behind this attack isn't yet known.
In a statement to GoMN, Google said:
"We have taken action to protect users against an email impersonating Google Docs, and have disabled offending accounts. We’ve removed the fake pages, pushed updates through Safe Browsing, and our abuse team is working to prevent this kind of spoofing from happening again. We encourage users to report phishing emails in Gmail."
For tips on how to stay safe from scam emails like this, click here. And a good rule of thumb is if something asks for a bunch of permissions – like the ability to read, send and manage all your emails and contacts – it's best to not give it permission, The Verge says.