INTERNET GIANT Google will remove its feature that asks users to decide whether or not they want to see an image in a message they receive through its email service Gmail.
At present Gmail alerts its users about attached images and offers users the option to open them once, or always from that sender. It said that this has been a security measure, and it is one that it does not seem to need anymore.
Improvements to the Gmail system in general mean that Google is happy to show images by default on desktop PCs as well as Android and iOS devices. All images will be transmitted through its own proxy servers and assessed for risks first, it said.
"Have you ever wondered why Gmail asks you before showing images in emails? We did this to protect you from unknown senders who might try to use images to compromise the security of your computer or mobile device," said Gmail product manager John Rae-Grant.
"But thanks to new improvements in how Gmail handles images, you'll soon see all images displayed in your messages automatically across desktop, iOS and Android. Instead of serving images directly from their original external host servers, Gmail will now serve all images through Google's own secure proxy servers."
Rae-Grant said that this will make communications simpler and more secure. The latter point is probably the most relevant, and he added that all images are automatically checked by Google servers.
"So what does this mean for you? Simple: your messages are more safe and secure, your images are checked for known viruses or malware, and you'll never have to press that pesky 'display images below' link again. With this new change, your email will now be safer, faster and more beautiful than ever," he added.
More cautious users can still elect to be asked before they see images, and this feature can be invoked under the general tab in the settings options.
The rollout began today with an update for the Android Gmail app, while web users are slowly being switched over to the new arrangement.
Speaking on the company blog, Gmail product manager John Rae-Grant explained, "Similar to existing features like default https access, suspicious activity detection, and free two-step verification, image proxying is another way your email is protected."
The news comes hot on the heels of the revelation from Yahoo that infected gif images on its website were infecting 27,000 computers per hour with malware in December. µ
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