A safer web, for everyone

Today is Safer Internet Day, and to mark the occasion we’re rolling out some new tools, research and useful reminders to help you keep safer online.

1. Keep security settings simple

The Security Checkup gives you a quick way to control the security settings for your Google Account. You can add a recovery phone number so we can get in touch if you’re ever locked out of your account, strengthen your password settings, and see which devices are connected to your account.

If you complete the Security Checkup by February 11 you’ll get 2GB of extra Google Drive storage, which can be used across Google Drive, Gmail, and Photos.

Safer Internet Day is a great time to do it, but you can—and should!—take a Security Checkup on a regular basis - start your checkup by visiting My Account.

2. Informing you about unsafe email messages 
When you exchange messages with your Gmail-using Grandmother, your connections are encrypted and authenticated. That means no peering eyes can read those emails as they zoom across the web in transit, and you can be confident that the message from your Grandma in size 48 font is really from her ;-)

However, as our Safer Email Report explains, that's not always the case when Gmail interacts with other mail services. Today, we’re introducing changes in Gmail on the web to let people know when a received message was not encrypted, or when the sender’s domain couldn’t be authenticated. Gmail also will warn you if you are composing a message to a recipient whose email service doesn’t support TLS encryption.

Here’s the notice you’ll see in Gmail before you send a message to a source that doesn’t support TLS encryption. You’ll also see the broken lock icon if you receive a message from a non-encrypted source.

If you receive a message which can’t be authenticated, you’ll see a question mark avatar in place of the regular profile photo, logo, or generated avatar:

Not all affected email will necessarily be dangerous. But we encourage you to be extra careful about replying to, or clicking on links in messages that you’re not sure about. And with these updates, you’ll have the tools to make these kinds of decisions.

3. Parents, take a moment to chat with your kids
Today the Young and Well Cooperative Research Centre is releasing findings from their preliminary Cultivating Digital Capacities report, which shows that parents recognise going online is increasingly important to many aspects of their kids’ life including information seeking, education, play and creative expression. However, parents also acknowledge the risks that come with their child’s online engagements, recognise that navigating risk is an ordinary part of life in the digital age, and that they need to stay attentive to these risks to ensure their child’s digital safety.

It’s important that parents chat regularly with their kids about how to safely use the internet. You don’t need to be an expert to have these conversations and Safer Internet Day is a great excuse to start this ongoing dialogue. You can read more about the research here.

There are also a number of Google tools like SafeSearch, Safety Mode in YouTube, two-factor authentication and the YouTube Kids app that you can set up for your kids to help them stay safer online. In particular, the YouTube Kids app offers family-focused content with a number of parental controls — including a timer, the ability to turn off search, and more — to provide a safer version of YouTube for younger children. To find out more about these tools visit Google’s Family Safety Centre.

We’re also supporting the launch of a YouTube channel highlighting content from the acclaimed Generation Next national seminar series. Topics include understanding anxiety in young people, the best child safety curriculum, and cultivating strong self esteem in children.

4. Year six teachers, enroll your class in a free digital licence
Last year, we announced a grant of $1.2 million for child safety group The Alannah and Madeline Foundation to offer a free e-Smart Digital License to every year six student in Australia. More than 100,000 kids from across Australia have already taken the test, and year six teachers can still register their class for free until April 10.

The Digital Licence teaches students about how to use digital devices safely, social networking and gaming, protecting privacy, communicating safely online, searching and researching, friends and strangers, creating and sharing, and managing money and online credits.

Teachers, enroll your class here.