Security professionals celebrate Safer Internet Day 2013
In an effort to spread awareness of best practices and to play its part in Safer Internet Day (February 5), Google recently made some changes to its Good to Know website. Launched in 2012, the consumer-focused education initiative includes a wide range of tips for protecting digital data and avoiding cyberthreats such as phishing and identity theft. Alma Whitten, Google's director of privacy, product and engineering, recently highlighted some of the company's encryption practices to emphasize the importance of building trust between consumers and companies.
"For example, we encrypt the Gmail and Google Search traffic between your computer and Google - this protects your Google activity from being snooped on by others," Whitten wrote in a blog post. "We also make this protection, known as session-wide SSL encryption, the default when you're signed into Google Drive. Because outdated software makes your computer more vulnerable to security problems, we built the Chrome browser to auto-update to the latest version every time you start it. It gives you up-to-date security protection without making you do any extra work."
Consumers have become increasingly concerned over website security in recent years, and with good reason. Whitten reported that Google identifies more than 10,000 unsafe websites each day. Google's efforts are shared with users in the form of notifications that a potential download or website may harm their computers. It also works with online companies to further spread cybersecurity awareness.
The anniversary of Safer Internet
Safer Internet Day turned 10 years old in 2013, and while it was started as an EU SafeBorders project, it has since become a worldwide event, recognized by 100 countries. CIO columnist Kenneth Corbin observed that a lot of the points made this year were focused on the issues of trust and transparency. Corbin cited the example of the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, which has pushed for web browsers to halt user tracking habits. Similar efforts have been made to encourage transparency in data collection practices.
One example of the shift to focusing on transparency is the White House's proposed Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights, which puts the issue of trust at the front of the security discussion. The document calls on companies to not only establish best practices in regard to data protection but to be honest in how they use their customers' information. In establishing a set of ground rules, White House officials suggested consumers should have the ability to control how information about themselves is collected as well as the ability to correct such data if it is inaccurate.
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