Author Archives: Royal Hansen

Our work to keep you safe online is never done

At Google, we keep more people safe online than anyone else with products that are secure by default, private by design and put you in control of your data. To celebrate Cybersecurity Awareness Month, we’ve introduced new features and technologies that keep your data private and secure.

Protecting your privacy with products that are secure by default

Protecting your privacy starts with the most advanced digital security. That’s why we make our products secure by default and help keep your data safe with customized recommendations in Security Checkup, an easy, personalized way to secure your Google Account. So whether you’re browsing the web, managing your inbox, or sharing your vacation photos, we’re keeping you safe with automatic protections built right into our products. Today we’re excited to share some new security products and features:

  • Introducing the New Security Hub on Pixel: The Security Hub brings all your security-related features and settings into one place on your Pixel device. In the hub, you'll see a clear red, yellow, or green indication of whether your system is secure based on inputs from Google Play Protect to your Google Account. If there's something wrong, the Hub will give you straightforward recommendations of what's wrong and what to do next. This feature is currently only available on Pixel devices, but we have plans to roll this out to our entire ecosystem in the future.
  • Google Fi Announces End-to-End Encrypted Calls: On top of built-in VPN and spam blocking features included in all phone plans, Google Fi is introducing end-to-end encrypted calls. One-to-one calls between Android phones on Fi will be secured with end-to-end encryption by default when they become available in the coming weeks, so your phone conversations stay between you and the person you're talking to.
  • Google One Announces VPN Expansion to New Countries: VPN by Google One keeps your network activity safer from hackers and online eavesdroppers. Already available on Android for Google One members on Premium plans (2 TB and higher) in Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Mexico, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States, starting today, we’ll begin rolling out the VPN in 10 more countries: Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland.
  • New Safe Browsing in Android Messages & Chat: Enables stronger protections against phishing and malware attacks, checks uncommon URLs in real-time to assess threats, and temporarily links data to your Google Account to offer tailored protection.
  • Chrome HTTPS-First Mode: HTTPS is a secure and private way for users to communicate with websites, reducing the risk of threats like network eavesdropping. With HTTPS-First Mode activated, Chrome will upgrade its connection to all pages a user visits to HTTPS. If HTTPS isn’t supported, the user will be shown a warning before loading a site with a less secure connection.

Building products that are Private by Design

Protecting user privacy is core to how we conceptualize, design, and build our products. This means continuously making thoughtful decisions about when, how, and why data is used in our products – and minimizing data use and retention when possible.

That’s why we’ve worked to create and open source privacy preserving technologies like Differential Privacy and Federated Learning. These technologies allow us to give you a customized experience without identifying individuals and while minimizing the amount of data that’s collected.

Ephemeral Learning is another privacy preserving technology that we’ve used to help train the models that power some of our most helpful features. Ephemeral Learning is a privacy-preserving technique that applies to cases where the training model runs on Google’s servers. Incoming data samples are stored in short-term memory for a training algorithm to learn from, and then they’re deleted within minutes. These samples are processed without any additional user signals, and without humans ever looking at the data. This technique allows us to train the models that power features like voice-to-text transcription while preserving privacy and reducing the amount of data stored.

We’ve also recently developed and open sourced Private Set Membership – a privacy preserving technology that makes it possible for an individual device to check membership against a dataset while maintaining the privacy of both the device and the dataset. This builds on our previous work on Private Join and Compute. As always, we’re committed to open sourcing and making these technologies widely available for developers around the world.

You’re in Control with Powerful Privacy and Security Settings

You should be able to choose the privacy settings that are right for you, with controls that are easy to use and understand and available right in the product when you need them. That’s why we created one place to manage settings in your Google Account, introduced Auto-Delete options, and created controls that appear in context when you’re using our products.

Back in May, our Photos team introduced Locked Folder on Pixel - a passcode-protected space where you can save photos and videos separately, so they won't show up as you scroll through Google Photos or any other apps on your device. We’re excited to share that this feature is coming to Google Photos on Android soon, and to iOS early next year.

locked folder GIF

In May, our Photos team introduced Locked Folder on Pixel - a passcode-protected space where you can save photos and videos separately.

October may be Cybersecurity Awareness Month, but our work to keep you safe online is never done. Visit our Safety Center to learn all the ways we’re making every day safer with Google.

Supporting the first #ShareTheMicInCyber Fellowship

Keeping people safe online requires more than just advanced security technology, it requires people.

Google’s security teams are made up of some of the world’s greatest hackers, developers and leaders. Day in and day out they work to keep our users and our Googlers information safe and secure.

There is no one size fits all security practitioner and we believe that diversity is key to building effective security teams. As Cybersecurity Awareness Month comes to an end, I’m thrilled to announce that Google is furthering its support for #ShareTheMicInCyber by investing in the the #ShareTheMicInCyber Fellowship.

Founded by Googler Camille Stewart and Harvard Kennedy School’s Lauren Zabierek #ShareTheMicInCyber began as an online conversation between Allies and Black cyber practitioners on Twitter and LinkedIn, and transformed into a social media phenomenon that highlights the experiences and expertise of Black practitioners in the field, features their accomplishments and creates a critical conversation on race in the industry.

The #ShareTheMicInCyber Fellowship, developed in partnership with New America is the first of its kind and will build on the work of previous #ShareTheMicInCyber campaigns by creating a program for Black cyber practitioners to further their career goals, build on their networks and pursue new opportunities. #ShareTheMicInCyber Fellows will conduct policy research and analysis, explore cybersecurity field issues from important perspectives and address the human side of cybersecurity, both from policy and technical aspects.

As part of Google’s commitment to strengthen the security workforce, we are proud to support the critical mission of #ShareTheMicInCyber by funding the first year of the fellowship and pledging to a total of five years of funding. The #ShareTheMicInCyber and New America teams will develop the fellowship program, which is expected to launch in 2022.

As modern cybersecurity threats evolve into new and more dangerous attacks - and as the industry seeks skilled workers - we need an arsenal of different ideas that represent all backgrounds. The #ShareTheMicinCyber Fellowship will amplify diverse talent and bring new voices and ideas to the industry and ultimately make us all safer and more secure.

Today, we #ShareTheMicInCyber

We know diverse security teams are more innovative, produce better products and enhance an organization's ability to defend against cyber threats. 

This is part of why Googler Camille Stewart cofounded #ShareTheMicInCyber, an initiative that pairs Black security practitioners with prominent allies who lend their social media platforms to the practitioners for a day. The goal is to break down barriers, engage the security community and promote sustained action to eradicate systemic racism.

Today, cybersecurity and privacy practitioners across Google and industry are elevating the voices and expertise of Black women who specialize in cybersecurity and privacy as part of #ShareTheMicInCyber’s Women’s History Month campaign. 

I’m honored to #ShareTheMicinCyber with a few of the Black women security and privacy practitioners I work alongside everyday at Google.

Camille Stewart

Camille Stewart, Head of Security Policy, Google Play + Android

“I work in this space to empower people in and through technology by translating and solving the complex challenges that lie at the intersection of technology, security, society and the law. 

Security is core to everything we do here. As creators of technology, we work to be intentional about how we build and educate users on safety and security. To do this effectively, we must be more intentional about diversity. More often than not, I am the only woman and only person of color in meetings where decisions are being made. To make truly inclusive technology and combat abuse, we need a diverse workforce.

I believe technical and policy mitigations to cybersecurity challenges will never reach their full potential until systemic racism is addressed and diverse voices are reflected among our ranks at all levels. That’s why I co-founded #ShareTheMicInCyber. ”

Brooke Pearson

Brooke Pearson, Program Manager for Chrome Privacy Sandbox 

“I work in security and privacy to protect people and their personal information. It’s that simple.

At Google, we’re tackling some of the world's biggest security and privacy problems, and everyday my work impacts billions of people around the world. Most days, that's pretty daunting, but it's also humbling and inspiring.

If we want to encourage people to engage in more secure behavior, we have to make it easy to understand, easy to act on and inclusive. 

I’m proud to work for a company that promotes active allyship and has stepped forward in such a prominent way to support Black women security and privacy professionals through the #ShareTheMicInCyber campaign.”

Michee Smith

Michee Smith, Product Manager, Privacy, Safety & Security

“Protecting user data is core to our mission. We build privacy into everything we do, which is why I am so passionate about my job. I work on products that make it easier for users to understand and control what happens with their data. My interest in this work was sparked when I learned how nuanced and technical these topics are, and how much they impact people.

For me, relationships and representation in tech really matter. Oftentimes, people of color don’t see people who look like us in these roles and on stages. There’s a sense of gratitude, belonging and relief to see someone who looks like you. I want to show up to help others imagine themselves in similar roles — that’s why I’m a huge fan of #ShareTheMicInCyber. This initiative is lifting people and communities up and creating an echo chamber that can be heard beyond cyber to the technology industry as a whole.”

Esther Ndegwa

Esther Ndegwa, Program Manager Security,  Privacy, Safety & Security

“My passion for security lies in the challenges the industry faces — especially with regard to the evolving expectations and requirements we face to protect data wherever it is. 

The right place to start is to ensure we define our principles through policy.

To get security right requires diverse thinking, drawn from different backgrounds and perspectives. I often encourage minority professionals in technology, who are starting off their career, to explore opportunities in security. 

For me, nothing resonates more than hearing someone tell their story and #ShareTheMicInCyber has created a much needed platform for amplifying those stories. While there is still work to be done to make the security industry more diverse, I believe that having conversations like these makes a big difference.”

I encourage you to follow, share, and retweet #ShareTheMicInCyber on Twitter and LinkedIn, today, March 19. By strengthening our commitment to racial equity and inclusion we can build safer and more secure products for everyone.

If you are interested in participating or learning more about #ShareTheMicInCyber, you can visit the site

Making every day safer with Google

People around the world use Google products every day to help with things big and small — whether it’s teaching an online class full of students using our Workspace apps or paying for coffee withGoogle Pay. Keeping you safe online means continuously protecting the security and privacy of your information. The safety of our products is driven by three core principles: treating your information responsibly, protecting it with world-class security and keeping you in control. 

Today, as we celebrate Safer Internet Day, we’re sharing the progress we’ve made to create a safer internet, and how we’ll continue to innovate so that every day you’re safer with Google. 

How we keep you safe in the products you use every day

In 2020, an Ipsos survey found that more than50% of Americans said they had become more concerned about their online safety than ever before. And we saw this reflected in what people searched for in 2020:

  • People were searching how to strengthen their online security.Searches for “online safety tips” increased by 250% in 2020, and searches for “how strong is my password” increased by 300% in 2020.
  • People were searching for reassurance about their online behaviors. “Is shopping online safe” was searched twice as much in 2020 than 2019. The most common inputs for searches of “Is [blank] online safe” in 2020 were: “Is ordering online safe,” “Is using a debit card online safe” and “Is buying online safe.”

An animation showing how Google is keeping users safe and secure.

We understand your concerns, and that’s why we provide automatic protections across all of our products to ensure no matter what you’re doing — browsing the web, managing your inbox or seeing family on Meet — we’re keeping you safe. And security has been core to making these services safe: Safe Browsing protects more than four billion devices, Gmail blocks more than 100 million phishing attempts every day and Google Play Protect scans over 100 billion apps every day for malware and other issues. 

We also help keep your data safe with customized recommendations in Security Checkup, an easy, personalized way to secure your Google Account. And Password Checkup helps to keep you and your passwords safe not just on Google, but across the web — since launch in 2019, we’ve seen a 30% reduction in breached credentials. 

Together with Stanford, Google explored what factors make someone targeted by email scams. We found that multiple factors correlate with higher risk: where you live, what devices you use and whether your information appeared in previous third-party data breaches. You can read more about this research on the Cloud blog.

Google Fi VPN exits beta on Android and will expand to iPhone  

Today, Google Fi announced that the Fi VPN for Android is exiting beta and is expanding to iPhone, which means you can get the benefits of the VPN on all phones while also getting a faster, stronger connection across your apps and services. The Fi VPN helps you stream, browse and download on an encrypted, private connection — so you can have peace of mind knowing that websites can’t use your IP address to track your location, and you’re shielded from hackers even while you’re using unsecure networks, like public Wi-Fi. 

Bringing election security support with Advanced Protection Program to U.S. states

As we have in previous elections, in the many months leading up to U.S. Election Day 2020, we’ve made it a priority to equip campaigns with the tools they need to strengthen their own security, protect themselves against digital attacks and reach voters. We helped Defending Digital Campaigns (DDC) distribute more than 10,000 Advanced Protection kits to more than 140 Federal campaigns ahead of the 2020 elections. Today we announced we’re expanding our collaboration with DDC to extend beyond federal campaign efforts to include security training and tools for state Parties and campaigns. Our Advanced Protection Program delivers the strongest protections available against phishing and account hijacking and is specifically designed for the highest-risk accounts.

In addition to our continued work with DDC, we’re also announcing  the launch of a new cybersecurity training initiative, Cybersecurity for State Leaders, driven by the National Cybersecurity Center and supported by Google. This program aims to educate state lawmakers and staff on ways to strengthen their defenses against digital attacks. The training will be conducted in all 50 states over the course of 2021, with a targeted focus on state legislators and their staff.

We have been at the forefront of keeping people safe online for the last 21 years, and we plan to keep it that way. Check out our top five safety tips and visit our Safety Center to learn all the ways Google helps you stay safe online, every day.