Google launches online safety campaign

Launched in partnership with U.K. Citizens Advice Bureau, search giant backs new campaign which aims to educate users by simplifying online risks and security issues.
Written by Ellyne Phneah, Contributor

Google has launched a campaign in collaboration with the Citizens Advice Bureau to increase awareness of online threats by making complicated online privacy issues easy to understand for users.

According to a report on BBC, the campaign covers various topics including choosing a strong password, recognizing phishing e-mail, understanding secure Web sites, signing out of online accounts and using two-factor authentication for services such as e-mail.

Titled "Good to Know", the initiative also uses a series of cartoons to simplify complicated online privacy issues and features an information booklet that touches on the way search information is used to sell advertising. A higher profile poster campaign focuses on broader industry problems.

"We thought that the first thing we have to do is earn the right to be informative," Anthony House, Google 's policy and communications manager, said in the report. "The long-term success of our business is totally tied up in people feeling comfortable spending more time online, so this is a really important campaign for us."

House acknowledged that Google had given users cause for concern including the Street View debate, where the company's photo-taking cars had intercepted personal user information being sent over Wi-Fi. Describing the image-based location services as a "complicated product", he said Google had thought deeply about the types of privacy protections that should be in place.

He added that Google did not always "get everything right" and that they have "learned a lot from mistakes" made in the past. "This campaign is one of the many manifestations of those lessons," he said.

Commenting on Google's new campaign, Sopho's senior technology consultant, Graham Cluley, wrote in a blog post that awareness campaigns about online safety were important as most Internet users were unsure about how to secure their computers and browse online safely.

The U.K.-based executive explained that this was not due to a lack of user interest but that many consumers did not know where to turn, or found it difficult to understand complex IT terminologies.

Cluley added that the Google campaign would be successful only  if the majority of Internet users who were not "techie geeks" learnt something about how to protect themselves online.

Singapore also marked the country's first Cyber Security Awareness day in April this year as part of efforts to increase online awareness and push for greater user responsibility such as the adoption of stronger passwords.

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