Today is Safer Internet Day and Online security is more important, to us, than it’s ever been, and as we are now spending more and more of our time online, understanding some basic online safety principles is critical. Google want to help us stay safe online and they have given Irish Tech News readers some online security tips to help us surf online safely.

It’s worth understanding common online threats, such as Phishing.  ‘Phishing’ is attempts by bad actors to get you to provide your information, like an email address, or credit card number and they remain a common threat.  Carefully evaluate any site or email before providing your personal information and make sure you’re using a browser with ‘Safe Browsing’ technology built in (Chrome, Firefox, Safari)

Never reuse the same password for important accounts, and don’t share passwords with anyone!

Pay very close attention to the software on your device!  Be careful about what you download and install, and make sure your software is up to date as this ensures that any bad guys will be constantly chasing the latest, most secure versions of software.

Of course it goes without saying that security is a top priority for Google and this how they protect their users:

Safe Browsing identifies unsafe websites and notifies users and webmasters so they can protect themselves from harm. It’s always hard at work, and Google show tens of millions of safe browsing warnings every week on more than 2 billion devices, across a variety of web browsers.

Chrome updates itself automatically, so the bad guys are always chasing the latest security protections.

Google use encryption to keep prying eyes away from your stuff.  Encryption scrambles your information into a secret code that only Google can lock and unlock.

Gmail was the first email service to be encrypted by default.

Google now encrypt Google Search, Maps, and Drive (their cloud-based storage service).

New devices running Android will be encrypted right out of the box.

Android devices and apps are practically a web unto themselves, which is why Google developed the ‘app analyzer’, a modified version of Safe Browsing that specifically hunts for dangerous apps in Google Play, other app stores, and on the web, and warns users before they install them. If apps fail this test, they aren’t allowed in Google Play.

A separate protection, Verify Apps, runs directly on Android devices, proactively checking more than 6 billion apps and 400 million devices, every day. It checks in when you install an app, returns frequently to make sure everything looks safe, and if something is amiss, can remove the app from afar.

Google also offers ways for users to take extra precautions and educate themselves about security, and their Security Checkup is a quick and easy way to manage security settings for your Google account.  By using it you can:

Provide backup information, like a phone number so that Google can get in touch in case you’re locked out of your account.

Set up 2-step authentication to add an extra layer of security to your account.  Think of this like an extra padlock on your door.

Make sure the recent activity in your account is actually YOUR recent activity.

Google also regularly release findings from research studies to help people understand online threats and their Project Zero team also release on a regular basis any security vulnerablilities that they have spotted.