Google Seeks Security Experts' Help in Teaching Online Safety

By Todd R. Weiss

If you're an IT security expert, Google is asking for your help in making the Internet safer for everyone.

The search giant has just posted a "Security Advice Survey" online, asking IT security experts for their best tips and tricks about how to stay safe on the Internet—from not clicking on links in emails to not downloading files from sites that might be dangerous.

"At Google, we're constantly trying to improve security for our users," wrote Rob Reeder of the company's user experience research team, in a March 26 post on the Google Online Security Blog. "Besides the many technical security features we build, our efforts include educating users with advice about what they can do to stay safe online. Our Safety Center is a great example of this. But we're always trying to do better and have been looking for ways to improve how we provide security advice to users."

The company's latest idea is the survey, which Reeder calls "a new research project to try to pare down existing security advice to a small set of things we can realistically expect our users to do to stay safe online."

That's where Google needs the help and advice of qualified IT security experts, he wrote. "If you work in security, we'd really appreciate your input. With your input we can draw on our collective expertise to get closer to an optimal set of advice that users can realistically follow, and thus, be safer online."

The online survey asks a wide range of targeted questions, including "What are the top 3 pieces of advice you would give to a non-tech-savvy user to protect their security online?"

Also featured are questions about how IT security experts approach their own safety online, including asking about the three most important things they do for themselves and their computers.

In addition, survey takers are asked how they learned about the things they listed, whether they install and use antivirus software on their computers, how they keep track of their passwords for their online accounts, and whether they use a password manager for such tasks. Also asked are whether the experts use two-factor authentication for any of their online accounts, whether they check to see if Websites they visit use HTTPS and whether they check the URL bar in their Web browsers to verify that they are visiting the Websites they intended to use.

So if you have a few minutes and are an IT security expert with the experience and expertise to back it up, Google would love your help. The advice you give could help someone you know.

This article was originally published on 2014-03-28