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Google increasing account protections for users impacted by Russian invasion of Ukraine

The company is automatically enabling some protections and encouraging affected users to take advantage of others capable of fending off cyber attacks related to the ongoing conflict.
michael-gariffo
Written by Michael Gariffo, Staff Writer on

Google detailed a series of measures it's taking to help those impacted by the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine deal with associated cyber threats and privacy risks. 

In a lengthy Twitter thread, Google Europe ran through a list of measures it's taking to automatically safeguard accounts, as well as measures users themselves can take to increase their privacy and security through freely available account features. 

First, the company made it clear that it is actively attempting to "look out for and disrupt disinfo campaigns, hacking, and financially motivated abuse" surrounding the conflict. This effort includes collaborations with other companies and "relevant government bodies" to address rising threats. 

On an individual level, Google has automatically increased account security protections for people in the regions affected by the conflict. This includes measures like enabling two-factor authentication (2FA) for users that didn't already have it activated and promoting the use of its Advanced Protection Program

The Advanced Protection Program offers extra safeguards for individuals that believe they may have higher-than-normal risks of being targeted by bad actors. The obvious correlation here would be any Ukrainian government officials, journalists, and anyone else that may be targeted by nationally sponsored or freelance hackers. 

For users in the conflict zone, as well as those browsing information about it, Google has enabled Safe Browsing mode by default, this will identify known phishing and malware insertion attempts from around the web for users on any of its Chrome browsers or branded sites and services. 

Users wishing additional protection against malicious downloads can also access Google's free VirusTotal service, which analyzes files for suspicious data or URLs, including the recently discovered wiper malware already known to be targeting individuals in Ukraine and Latvia. 

Lastly, the company details a series of ongoing efforts to combat misinformation and propaganda campaigns, including tweaking YouTube to surface "videos from trusted news sources," and removing "hundreds of channels & thousands of videos" that provided "violative misinformation." 

Similarly, all ads attempting to exploit the crisis will be blocked. However, Google is simultaneously donating $2 million worth of ad space to humanitarian organizations to help "connect people on the ground searching for resources with information." 

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