Gmail Bug: Internet Axis of Evil & Importance of Complaint Rates

Posted by George Bilbrey 

George Bilbrey
By George Bilbrey

Gmail has a bug that exposes your Gmail account address book if: (1) you have Gmail open; (2) you (like me) run Firefox and (3) you visit a malicious website site that runs a script calling for the address book. I haven’t been able to confirm whether this has been fixed. You can read a better description of the problem here.

I’d be willing to bet that the “blackhats” found this hole a while ago and have harvested quite a few addresses. There is a ready market for “hacked” email lists – and here comes more supply.

Because it is so easy for the really bad guys to get good quality lists (not just through harvesting addresses from websites and directory harvest attacks), ISPs are relying even more on complaints as a major driver of reputation. List quality metrics, like unknown user rates and spam traps, don’t mean as much for hacked lists … but when a subscriber complains, it is a sure sign of trouble.

If you use Gmail, be careful until the bug is confimed as fixed.

Happy 2007.

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About George Bilbrey

George Bilbrey is the founder of the industry’s first deliverability service provider, Assurance Systems, which merged with Return Path in 2003. He is a recognized expert on the subjects of email reputation and deliverability and is active in many industry organizations, including the Messaging Anti-Abuse Working Group (MAAWG) and the Online Trust Alliance (OTA). In his role as president of Return Path George is the driving force behind the ongoing innovation of our products and services. Prior to Return Path, George served as Director of Product Management at and as a partner in the telecommunications group at Mercer Management Consulting. He holds a B.A. in economics from Duke University, and an MBA from the Kenan-Flagler School of Business, University of North Carolina.

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