Gmail PDF Viewer Updated, Gmail CAPTCHA Code Compromised
Article by George Norman
On 27 Apr 2009
There are good news and bad news that we have to report about Google’s take on how an email client should look and feel: the good news is that the PDF viewer provided by Gmail has been updated so that it provides support for PowerPoint (.PPS) and TIFF files; the bad news is that a worm capable of breaking Gmail’s CAPTCHA code has been spotted in the wild.

Starting with the good news, here is what Software Engineer Marc Miller had to say on the matter: “A few months ago, we added fast online viewing of PDFs in your browser. That same viewer now supports TIFF and Microsoft PowerPoint document formats too: you can now view TIFF and PPT files online, directly in your browser, without having to save the files to your computer and without needing to buy, install, or wait for any special software to start up. We've had a "View as slideshow" option for PowerPoint files for a while; now we've integrated this conversion technology into the same viewer that we use for PDFs and TIFFs.


According to Marc Miller, the features provided by the viewer surpass those provided by the old “View as slideshow version.” With the updated viewer once can now zoom in and zoom out, select a piece of text and copy/paste it, print the presentation to a PDF doc, and last but not least, it works without you having to install a Flash plug-in.

The bad news is that Vietnamese security company BKIS (Bach Koa Internetwork Security) has detected a worm in the wild that is capable of breaking Gmail’s CAPTCHA (Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart). Once a machine has been infected, the worm launches Internet Explorer, goes to the Gmail new account registration page and starts setting up new accounts using fictitious names.

“The worm automatically signs up and creates random Gmail accounts for spamming purposes. To do so, it must be able to break Google’s CAPTCHA first. Gaptcha continuously creates Gmail accounts and sends registered accounts to hackers until Gmail blocks the infected machine’s IP. It then removes itself from the system. Once your computer gets infected with this worm, you will see IE windows automatically appear. You will then see the whole automatic Gmail accounts registering process by the worm. After that you will not be able to sign up for new Gmail account as your computer will have been blocked by Gmail,” explains Senior Malware Researcher with BKIS, Do Manh Dung.

Tags: Google, Gmail, PDF Viewer, PowerPoint, TIFF, Worm, CAPTCHA
About the author: George Norman
George is a news editor.
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