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Google pledges security training for 10,000 UK internet users

Google will host free workshops in five UK cities and 30 schools on safeguarding passwords, updating account settings, finding stolen devices and checking where data is being shared

Google has announced a countrywide roadshow in the UK to train more than 10,000 British internet users in how to stay safe and secure online.

The company’s security experts will host free workshops in five cities and 30 schools where Google search insights show a higher proportion of internet users are searching for security related questions such as: “How secure is my password?”

Newly released search insights from Google show searches for security-related topics have increased dramatically in the past ten years, with searches for “Email been hacked” and “Phished account” both up more than 5,000%.

Over the past decade, searches for “Find my phone,” “Find my lost phone” and “Lost my phone” rose by over 5,000%.

Other top searches include “Website scam check,” up by over 700%; “Change my password,” up by over 300%; and “Identity theft protection,” up by over 250%.

Just over a quarter of 2,000 people surveyed in UK cities said online services they use – such as an email account or online bank account – had been hacked or targeted by hackers in the past two years.

Over a third of respondents said they were afraid their personal information – such as passwords, bank details or emails – could be taken by hackers and used without their permission or to pretend to be them.

Almost a quarter said they did not have any kind of security, such as a 4-digit code, pattern lock or fingerprint scan, to secure their smartphone – despite increasing amounts of important personal information stored on mobile devices.

One in ten people reported their personal information had been used online without their permission; and one in five either have, or are unsure if they have, given information to a website that seemed genuine, but was not – such as imitation banking sites or phishing sites that looked very similar to the original.

Need to educate users

“This is the first time we’ve ever done anything like this, knowing so many Brits are searching for information on how to keep their online data secure,” said Laurian Clemence, communications manager at Google UK.

“Our workshops will cover best practice directly from Google’s privacy and security experts, on how they can safeguard their passwords, update their account settings, find a stolen device, and check where they are sharing their data in just two minutes, from one place. Anyone can sign up, starting today,” she said.

Raj Samani, chief technology officer for Europe at Intel Security welcomed Google’s initiative to engage and educate consumers on the keys to keeping themselves safe online.

“With a marked increase in phishing, identity theft and consumer data breaches, it is now more important than ever for people to understand how to best protect themselves and their sensitive data,” he said.

According to Intel Security research, 57% of UK consumers do not believe it is their responsibility to protect their own devices. “This shows that work needs to be done to educate users,” said Samani.

“Simple measures such as understanding what makes a secure password and how to recognise phishing emails can empower consumers of all ages to use technology safely. With accurate education, preparation and implementation of security measures, we will hopefully see a drop in successful attacks in the future.”

The Google workshops will be hosted in London, Leeds, Birmingham, Boston and Manchester from August to October, starting in Leeds on 7 August 2015.

The Google security education team will visit primary schools across the country starting in September.

Those who sign up will be able to book a one-to-one private consultation with a Google Security Ambassador, while also hearing from one of Google’s security experts who will offer their best practice tips on how to keep anyone’s personal data safe and secure.

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