New campaign helps with online safety


People concerned about their security online will be given tips on how to protect themselves as part of a major advertising campaign on public transport, online and in newspapers and magazines, launched today. The ads will teach vulnerable internet users how to compose a secure password and how to spot phishing attacks, among other things.

The campaign, called 'Good to Know', is being jointly run by Google and the Citizens Advice Bureau and also sees the launch of a website dedicated to helping people understand the risks of browsing the internet.

The ads warn people not to reply to suspicious emails with any items of personal or financial information and will advise those who are not-so internet savvy to look out for "https", at the beginning of a web address as well as a padlock symbol, which indicate that a site is secure. "When you go into a branch of your bank, you recognise the official staff by their name, their uniforms and the services they offer you. Having this level of reassurance shouldn't be any different for online banking or other sensitive services," said a joint statement from Google and Citizens Advice.

In it, they also advised that people sign out of any online accounts and shut down their browser. "Ever gone out for the day and left your front door wide open? Exactly. The same principle applies when you leave yourself signed in to online accounts on the computers you use," the statement read.

Google recently adopted '2-step verification', which demands that users must enter their password then an automatically generated code on their phone in order to sign in. "This means that if someone steals or guesses your password, the potential hijacker still can't sign in to your account because they don't have your phone," said Google.

'We have thousands of people fall victim to account hijacking or phishing every week. Educating consumers on their own security has always been an important issue for us,' said Anthony House, Google's Public Policy and Communications manager. He added: 'This is a first step and the UK is the first place we are taking it.'

Gillian Guy, the chief executive of the Citizens Advice Bureau, said: "It is clear from Ofcom reports that internet security is the top concern for most people. One fifth have no idea what is being done to protect them, while two thirds think that more should be done."

Google has been criticised for its record on online security in the past. Last year it admitted its Street View camera cars wrongly collected information people sent over unencrypted wi-fi networks. It escaped a financial penalty in the UK but was fined nearly €90,000 in France.