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Google Offers Security Tips for Safer Internet

By Kenneth Corbin, CIO
February 05, 2013 09:02 PM ET

CIO - Google today joined with a group of prominent organizations to mark "Safer Internet Day," offering an updated menu of tips for safe Web surfing.

The search giant has refreshed its " Good to Know" page, which it first launched a year ago, with new emphasis on using Google's own security and privacy tools, device hygiene and tips to avoid identity theft.

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Speaking at an event in Washington, Google's Public Policy Director Pablo Chavez emphasized the importance of creating strong passwords and not reusing them for multiple online accounts.

"Very concretely, it is very, very important for all of us to think very carefully about our passwords. So you should have a long password, it should consist of symbols, numbers and letters a combination thereof. You should not have the same password for all of your major services, right. So Twitter should a different password from Facebook should be a different password from Gmail," Chavez said.

"And, honestly, this is one of the things that I have to remind myself of, because, you know, in the physical world, would I ever create a key that would open my car and would open my house and would open my bank account all at once," he added.

Google Needs You to Feel Safe Online

For Google, participation in an event like Safer Internet Day comes as a recognition that trust is an essential element of a vibrant and healthy Web. It's surely not lost on a company whose profits rise and fall on the rate of activity online that confidence in the Internet experience is crucial.

"One of the reasons why--that Google is participating in this is because our user safety is a number one priority. We focus on this on the engineering side on a daily basis," Chavez said.

Safer Internet Day, an initiative of the nonprofit National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA), follows closely on the group's Data Privacy Day, which saw participation from leading industry players including Facebook and Microsoft.

NCSA's work on privacy and online safety issues comes amid an ongoing policy debate over what, if any, additional measures lawmakers and regulators should enact to protect consumers' personal information on the Web. The Federal Trade Commission, for instance, has been taking a hard look at data brokers and other firms that collect and share users' information for marketing purposes, and has called on Web browsers to adopt technology to disable tracking.

Internet Privacy Policy Debates Continue

Separately, the White House has issued a proposal for a consumer bill of rights, calling for greater transparency and clearer notice about what information Internet companies are collecting and how they are using it.

In Congress, lawmakers continue to debate various proposals for limiting data-collection activities, acknowledging that they must navigate a careful balance between consumer protections and choking off a primary source of revenue in the online economy.

Similarly, participants in the policy debate allow that there may be tradeoffs between privacy and security, and that a completely anonymous Web, while offering maximum privacy, would entail an unacceptable forfeiture of security and trust.

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