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Google Overhauls Security Alerts

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The logo for search engine Google is displayed on screens in London. Leon Neal—AFP via Getty Images

Google announced a number of enhancements to its cybersecurity warnings on Thursday.

First, the search giant expanded an alert system that notifies Gmail users before they click on suspicious links. Google said the warnings will now appear again after a user clicks such a link, and that the protection will extend beyond the Chrome web browser and Gmail app as well, it said.

“You can continue to http://example.com/ at your own risk,” the notice warns, directing the recipient to more “safe browsing” instructions.

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Next, Google (GOOGL) said it had created a new warning message that will appear when the company suspects a user might be under attack by state-sponsored hackers. “Government-backed attackers may be trying to steal your password,” the message reads, before supplying instructions to secure one’s online accounts, such as enabling two-factor authentication, which sends a separate verification code to the user’s phone when a login attempt is made. Google’s Jigsaw think tank project is helping with the alerts about state-sponsored attacks.

In addition, the search giant said it had collaborated with others in the industry, including Comcast (CMCSA), Microsoft (MSFT), and Yahoo (YHOO), to write and submit a draft proposal for new email encryption standard. You can read the Internet Engineering Task Force specification here.

This proposal builds on Google’s introduction earlier this year of a red-colored lock icon that indicates whenever an email message has been sent via an unencrypted channel. The new specification aims further to prevent hackers from tampering with email messages during their routing.

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The Jigsaw project (formerly “Ideas”), an internal team that builds products to combat cyber threats, has debuted a number of security tools recently, including a password alert plug-in that notifies a user when they may have entered their password into an unsafe website, a computer server “shield” that soaks up attacks involving barrages of Internet traffic, and an digital attack map that shows where organizations are under fire online.

On Safer Internet Day (Feb. 9), Google celebrated by giving away 2 gigabytes of extra cloud storage to anyone who completed a security checkup.