What is Cyber Security Month? How to perform Google's Security Checkup and stay safe online

Experts say hacking awareness needs to improve significantly in order to avoid massive global disruption in the coming years

Anthony Cuthbertson
Monday 15 October 2018 13:44 BST
National Cyber Security Awareness Month is observed every October in the United States
National Cyber Security Awareness Month is observed every October in the United States (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

If you've visited Google's homepage recently, you may have noticed a small note indicating that it is Cyber Security Month, together with a message encouraging you to perform a "quick Security Checkup".

The awareness campaign, which first began in the US in 2004 before spreading to the EU in 2012, is part of a major effort to promote cyber security issues and educate the public on the dangers of online attacks.

Cyber security has become an increasingly risky area in recent years, with the World Economic Forum's Global Risks Report 2018 naming cyber attacks as the third top cause of global disruption over the next five years, behind natural disasters and catastrophic weather events.

In order to protect against such occurrences, both businesses and individuals are encouraged to increase their awareness of the potential risks in order to improve their safety.

How to perform Google's Security Checkup

Performing Google's Security Checkup can be done by either visiting the Google Search page and following the link at the bottom, or simply by clicking here.

The checkup involves analysing issues within four separate sections: 'Your devices', 'recent security events', 'sign-in and recovery', and 'third-party access'.

Through these sections, Google account holders will be informed of any unusual activity on their account, such as signing in from new devices or sensitive account setting changes.

Google also encourages users to remove old devices with access to their account if they haven't been used for a long period of time.

Who else is raising public awareness of cyber security?

A number of other organisations and businesses have been participating in the campaigned in Europe and the US, with the Better Business Bureau in the US offering a number of tips for staying safe online throughout the month.

Advice from the bureau includes avoiding suspicious links and attachments, sticking to trustworthy websites, improving the strength of passwords, and updating security protection software on computers and other devices.

Security experts have also issued their own warnings about cyber safety, including Jake Moore from antivirus software firm ESET, who praised Google's initiative.

"There still seems to be a huge knowledge gap in fully understanding the risks of the internet so any help and support is great. Moreover, when Google pioneers a feature, it usually rolls out across the rest of the internet rather quickly," Mr Moore told Business Computing World.

"Privacy tools shedding light on hard to grasp areas of the internet that will help keep people safer online is an excellent idea to help improve awareness on the subject."

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