Google opens up G Suite security threat alert service to businesses

The alert center's security notification system has been opened up days after Google revealed an exposure of private data to outside developers on its Google+ service.
Written by Charlie Osborne, Contributing Writer

Google has made the alert center for the enterprise productivity platform G Suite widely available days after an exposure of data prompted the company to close down Google+.

On Wednesday, the Mountain View, Calif.-based tech giant said in a blog post that the alert center, previously only available in beta, "helps G Suite organizations detect threats and take action to mitigate them."

The alert center, launched in beta in September, has been designed to bring security alerts and notifications together under one interface.

Gmail phishing attempts, malicious emails and attachments, and IP addresses which have been linked to fraudulent or criminal activity are detected via machine learning, even if IP addresses have previously been placed on a list of IPs which are believed to be legitimate and trustworthy.

CNET: Midterm elections, social media and hacking: What you need to know

Devices linked to the system will also be monitored for any evidence of jailbreaking or rooting -- which can be a serious security risk in corporate environments -- and alerts will be issued if such devices are found.

A number of account warning systems are also in place, including any rises in spam detected and suspicious login attempts. User accounts which appear to be compromised based on strange activity may also be proactively blocked, pending investigation.

A feature of particular note is the issue of alerts when Google believes state-sponsored threat actor attacks designed to steal account credentials are underway.

Google forcibly enabled the feature earlier this month. While once optional, the feature is now on for most administrators, starting today.

Google said the reason for the change is that many admins did not seem aware of the service.

While it is estimated that less than 0.1 percent of Google Account users are subject to such attacks, with politics worldwide hanging on a tightrope and evidence of constant tampering in events such as elections, the feature is more important than ever.

TechRepublic: Despite risks, only 38% of CEOs are highly engaged in cybersecurity

The alert center will also notify users when Google itself is investigating G Suite security and privacy issues which may impact a business.

"For every alert, we include dedicated knowledge articles to help admins learn about the alert type," Google says. "Where relevant, we also have links that admins can use to take actions to help remediate the threat."

The alert center is now available for all G Suite editions and will be rolling out over the next 15 days.

See also: Hacker faces jail time after defacing US military academy, NYC sites

As Google ramps up security for enterprise users, the company is itself dealing with the aftermath of a data leak impacting over 500,000 Google+ users.

On Monday, the tech giant revealed a vulnerability present in the Google+ People API which may have exposed private profile data belonging to account holders.

As a result of the findings -- which the Wall Street Journal claims were covered up in the face of potential regulatory scrutiny -- Google announced the closure of the social network. The bug was patched earlier this year.

How to discover and destroy spyware on your smartphone (in pictures)

Previous and related coverage

Editorial standards