Gmail’s AI-powered spam detection is its biggest security upgrade in years
news.movim.eu / ArsTechnica · Monday, 4 December - 19:04 · 1 minute
The latest post on the Google Security blog details a new upgrade to Gmail's spam filters that Google is calling "one of the largest defense upgrades in recent years." The upgrade comes in the form of a new text classification system called RETVec (Resilient & Efficient Text Vectorizer). Google says this can help understand "adversarial text manipulations"—these are emails full of special characters, emojis, typos, and other junk characters that previously were legible by humans but not easily understandable by machines. Previously, spam emails full of special characters made it through Gmail's defenses easily.
If you want an example of what "adversarial text manipulation" looks like, the below message is something from my spam folder. My personal Gmail experience with these emails is that they used to be a major problem during the 1st half of the year, with emails like this regularly landing in my inbox. It does seem like this RETVec tech upgrade really works, though, because emails like this haven't been a problem at all for me in the last few months.
The reason emails like this have been so difficult to classify is that, while any spam filter could probably swat down an email that says "Congratulations! A balance of $1000 is available for your jackpot account," that's not what this email actually says. A big portion of the letters here are " homoglyphs "—by diving into the endless depths of the Unicode standard, you can find obscure characters that look like they're part of the normal Latin alphabet but actually aren't.