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Though Google hasn’t really been at the top of its game when dealing with privacy and security, helping the NSA spy on users around the world and being involved in AI development for military drones isn’t exactly something that is consistent with their motto “Don’t be evil” which was actually removed from the preface of their code of conduct.
But what we need to keep in mind is that the fact that Google is a large, complex company with a lot of aims. They have made plenty of efforts and have programs and initiatives in place that have their trajectory plotted towards nurturing a safer space that the users of the Internet feel comfortable with. A few of the things that Google have done to improve online security are listed below.
Capture the Flag
The first CTF was hosted by Google was in April 2016. It has now become an annual event. The teams that sign up for the event is made of developers and they hunt through the software's code to find potential problems. Challenges are set around known issues and are incorporated into a timed competition.
The top ten teams that qualify are flown out to Google's offices to participate and the top three teams are awarded.
This is a great way for the participants to earn cash and for Google to find their vulnerabilities.
Google debuted its Safe Browsing anti-malware effort a year before they launched their Chrome web browser in May 2007. They had figured out that malware spreads through drive-by downloads from compromised web servers. Though they were unable to patch the vulnerabilities, they set it up in a way where you get alerts that flag potentially compromised websites that pop up in your search results.
The connection between the user and a website didn't use to be secure, if the URL of a site begins with HTTP, that means the connection is not encrypted. This meant that any data that was sent between the device and the web site's server could be intercepted. These were also known as man-in-the-middle attacks and allowed attackers to insert themselves between the device and lay their hands on a user's data.
The padlock that pops up next to a URL bar is a great visual aid that keeps you informed about how secure a site is. But Google did more than that and they started to advocate for the adoption of HTTPS and began moving non-HTTPS websites lower when it comes to search rankings.
Google Play Protect
Google Play Protect is capable of using machine learning to identify Potentially harmful apps (PHA). By preparing the system to target and identify markers that are associated with known PHAs, it is able to identify apps that display similar behavior patterns.
Account Settings & Security Checkup
Google has access to a large amount of private information, but unlike a lot of their contemporaries, they also realize the value of trust and have made efforts to ensure that the user feels comfortable sharing information.
The My Account dashboard allows you to navigate between Sign-In & Security, Personal Info & Privacy and Account Preferences.
The Security check up tool guides you through the most crucial security settings so that you do not have to delve deeply into all the settings if you do not want to.