A behind-the-scenes look at how Google is making the Internet more secure
Google operates one of the largest and safest cloud infrastructures in the world. Its data centres are situated across the globe and are connected by submarine fiber-optic cables. The entire system is carefully monitored around the clock.
Google Play Protect
Every day, Play Protect checks around 50 billion Android apps for malware and viruses. The first test happens when a provider attempts to upload an app to the Google Play Store. And Google Play Protect is also there when users want to download an app or use it on their device. When the service identifies a potentially harmful app, Google warns the user or automatically removes the app. For more information, visit android.com.
Google uses various encryption technologies such as HTTPS and Transport Layer Security to protect emails sent via Gmail and photographs that users save to the cloud. Google’s search engine also uses the HTTPS protocol as standard.
Checking data requests
Google does not give intelligence or other government agencies direct access to user data. That is as true for the United States and Germany as it is for every country in the world. If an authority makes a request for access to a user’s data, Google will scrutinise that request and will not grant access without good cause. Google has published transparency reports for years, which include requests for data. To read the reports, visit transparencyreport.google.com.
Google Safe Browsing technology protects users from dangerous sites and malicious actors. At its heart is a database containing the addresses of suspicious websites. If a user attempts to visit one of these sites, he or she will receive a warning. Google also uses artificial intelligence to counter newly developed phishing strategies. To read more, visit safebrowsing.google.com.
Each year, Google invests millions of dollars in research projects – and in 'bug bounties'. These are rewards for IT aces who help the company find hidden security loopholes. One such expert is 18-year-old Ezequiel Pereira from Uruguay, who has helped Google uncover several of these gaps. Last year, he received a reward of $36,337 for an important discovery.
Google’s elite security team works hard to close security loopholes before hackers and data thieves can find them. Experts call these gaps 'zero-day vulnerabilities', which is why the team is named Project Zero. The team does not concentrate purely on Google services; it also looks for weaknesses in competitors’ services, so that it can inform them of these and help protect their users, too. For more information about Project Zero’s work, visit googleprojectzero.blogspot.com.
A helping hand for other IT providers
Google consistently makes its security technologies available to other companies free of charge in an effort to keep the Internet safe, even outside the realm of Google. For example, developers at other companies can use the Cloud Security Scanner to search for vulnerabilities. And Google’s Safe Browsing technology is used by Apple’s Safari browser and Mozilla Firefox.
Spam protection thanks to AI
Google uses machine learning to protect Gmail users from spam. Neural networks analyse billions of unsolicited or unwanted emails and identify patterns that allow them to detect spam. The approach has proven successful. Now, less than one in a thousand spam emails ends up in users’ inboxes – and that number is shrinking every day!
Illustrations: Robert Samuel Hanson