Google Offers Users 2GB of Free Storage to Review Security Settings

The Safer Internet Day campaign by Google is designed to make users more security-aware.

Google security

Google is offering 2GB of free storage to users who review and manage their Google Account security settings over the next few days.

The company announced the offer Tuesday, on Safer Internet Day, as part of an effort to get users to pay more attention to online security.

“We have many protections in place to keep people, and their information, secure, but there's also a lot that you can do to protect yourself,” Google Product Manager Andreas Tuerk said in announcing the initiative.

Technologies like Google Safe Browsing and 2-Step Verification, for instance, give Internet users additional protections when surfing the Web or transacting online, he said. Safe Browsing identifies unsafe Websites and warns users about accessing them. It currently is available on more than 1 billion Chrome, Safari and Firefox Web browsers.

Similarly, two-step authentication bolsters account security by requiring users to use a password and another form of identity verification to access an account.

As part of the security checkup process, Google wants users to review items such as account recovery, recent activity logs and account permissions. Adding a phone number to the account recovery information, for instance, can aid in situations in which a user might be locked out of an account while a review of recent sign-ins can help users quickly detect suspicious account log-in attempts.

In addition, Google wants users to review all the applications, Websites and devices connected to their Google account and to remove anything that is no longer current or is not being used. Users who review their account settings will receive the additional storage around the end of this month.

Safer Internet Day is organized by Insafe, a network of 31 national online security awareness centers in Europe. The network, co-funded by member nations of the European Union, has organized a Safer Internet Day every February for the past 11 years. The effort is designed to focus attention on the safe use of mobile and Web technologies particularly by children and youth. Several technology companies fund the organization’s campaign in the United States, including Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Twitter and Symantec. Nonprofits like the Internet Education Foundation and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children also contribute to the awareness campaign.

Google’s attempt to nudge users into taking steps to protect their accounts comes amid unprecedented concern among Internet users about online security. More people in a recent Gallup poll cited by Tuerk in his announcement Tuesday were worried about their computer or smartphone being hacked than they were about having their home broken into while they were away.

Sixty-two percent of the 1,017 U.S.-based adults who took the October 2014 Gallup poll said they were frequently or occasionally worried about hacking, compared with 45 percent who said the same about being burglarized. Worries about online security generally tended to be more prevalent in households with annual incomes greater than $75,000 than in homes with lower incomes. About one in four Americans said they had been hacked or had their credit or debit card data stolen by online thieves in the past 12 months.

Gallup has conducted its annual crime poll since 2000, but last year marked the first time it has polled people on their concerns related to online hacking.

Jaikumar Vijayan

Jaikumar Vijayan

Vijayan is an award-winning independent journalist and tech content creation specialist covering data security and privacy, business intelligence, big data and data analytics.