Use secure networks

It’s good to be extra careful whenever you go online using a network you don’t know or trust – like using the free Wi-Fi at your local cafe. The service provider can monitor all traffic on their network, which could include your personal information.

However, if you are using a service that encrypts your connection to the web service, it can make it much more difficult for someone to snoop on your activity. By default, we encrypt the Gmail connection between your computer and Google – this helps protect your Google activity from being snooped on by others. We also make this protection, known as session-wide SSL encryption, the default when you’re signed into Google Drive and many other services.

Check for signals about your connection with the website when you surf the web.

First, look at the address bar in your browser to see if the URL looks real. You should also check to see if the web address begins with https:// – which signals that your connection to the website is encrypted and more resistant to snooping or tampering. Some browsers also include a padlock icon in the address bar beside https:// to indicate more clearly that your connection is encrypted and you are more securely connected.

When you connect through a public Wi-Fi network, anyone in the vicinity can monitor the information passing between your computer and the Wi-Fi hotspot if your connection is not encrypted. Avoid doing important activities like banking or shopping over public networks.

If you use Wi-Fi at home, you should make sure you use a password to secure your router. Just follow the instructions provided by your Internet Service Provider or router manufacturer to set your own password for the router instead of using the router default password, which may be known to criminals. If criminals are able to access your router, they can change your settings and snoop on your online activity.

Finally, you should also make sure to secure your home Wi-Fi network so other people can’t use it for an added layer of security. This means setting up a password to protect your Wi-Fi network – and just like with other passwords you choose, make sure that you pick a long, unique mix of numbers, letters and symbols so others can’t easily guess your password. You should choose the WPA2 setting when you configure your network for more advanced protection.

Safety tools

Discover the Top 5 Google online safety features designed to help you keep your family safe online.

Google Accounts

Make your Google Account even more secure

You can add an extra layer of security to your Google Account by enabling 2-step verification. If you have 2-step verification turned on, Google will send a passcode to your mobile phone when someone tries to sign into your account from an unfamiliar computer. This means that if someone steals or guesses your password, the potential attacker still can’t sign in to your account because they don’t have your phone. Now you can protect yourself with something you know (your password) and something you have (your phone).

Learn more

Access your settings by clicking your name or picture in the right corner then clicking Account.

At the top, click Security. In the Password box, click Setup next to “2-Step verification.”

You will then see a step-by-step guide which will help you through the setup process.

You’ll then be taken back to 2-step verification settings. Review your settings and add backup phone numbers.

You’re done! Next time you sign in, you’ll receive an SMS with a verification code.

Chrome

Browse the web in private

You can use Incognito Mode in the Chrome browser on your computer, tablet, or phone to browse the web privately. In Incognito Mode, the pages you visit and files you download aren’t recorded in Chrome’s browsing or download history.

Learn more

Click the Chrome menu on the browser toolbar → Click New Incognito Window.

A new window will open with the incognito icon in the corner. To exit, simply close the window.

Google Accounts

Your Google Account, your way

On your Account settings page, you can see services and information associated with your Google Account and change your security and privacy settings.

Learn more

Access settings by clicking your name or picture in the right corner, then clicking Account.

Google Accounts

Get an alert if your name appears on the web

Me on the Web can help you understand and manage what people see when they search for you on Google. It helps you set up Google Alerts so you can monitor if information about you appears online, and it automatically suggests some search terms you may want to keep an eye on.

Learn more

Sign in to your Google Account and navigate to the “Me on the Web” section.

Click Manage my Web Alerts, and then click the red button to create an alert.

Your name will show up in the text field. Click the text field to view more suggested alerts.

Click Add to add an alert. Click the pencil icon to make edits, and the trash can icon to delete.

In the “How often” drop-down, choose the frequency of alerts.

Google Accounts

Manage the data stored in your Google Account

Google Dashboard shows you what's stored in your Google Account and provides an overview of some of your recent account activity. From one central location, you can easily view your data and activity and access your settings for services such as Blogger, Calendar, Docs, Google+ and more.

Learn more

Visit Dashboard to see a summary of the data associated with your Google Account and manage your personal settings.

From here, see and manage data stored in your Google Account.

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