Google has added a virus-scanning feature to its Gmail webmail service to help protect customers from getting viruses, a year after it first announced it would be implementing the feature for its customers.

The new service available to all Gmail account holders, will block certain types of file attachments, such as executables, as well as attempting to clean or remove viruses from infected attachments so that users can access the attachment's information.

Gmail will also automatically scan all attachments users send and receive to prevent users from sending messages with infected attachments.

Until now, Google has protected Gmail users by simply blocking messages that carry attachments commonly associated with virus attacks rather than allowing people to see what information they affected files contain.

Google is thought to be using a third-party technology to scan the files, however it has yet to say which company it has turned to, to implement the scan.

Google launched Gmail in April 2004, however the service is still to get out of beta status.