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How Google protects your data

Google for Work
Security and Compliance

Operational Security

Google helps tens of millions of people every day to protect themselves from harm by showing warnings to users of Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox and Apple Safari when they attempt to navigate to websites that would steal their personal information or install software designed to take over their computers.

Far from being an afterthought or the focus of occasional initiatives, security is an integral part of our operations.

Vulnerability management

Google administrates a vulnerability management process that actively scans for security threats using a combination of commercially available and purpose-built in-house tools, intensive automated and manual penetration efforts, quality assurance processes, software security reviews and external audits. The vulnerability management team is responsible for tracking and following up on vulnerabilities. Once a vulnerability requiring remediation has been identified, it is logged, prioritized according to severity, and assigned an owner. The vulnerability management team tracks such issues and follows up frequently until they can verify that the issues have been remediated. Google also maintains relationships and interfaces with members of the security research community to track reported issues in Google services and open-source tools. More information about reporting security issues can be found at Google Application Security.

Malware prevention

An effective malware attack can lead to account compromise, data theft, and possibly additional access to a network. Google takes these threats to its networks and its customers very seriously and uses a variety of methods to prevent, detect and eradicate malware. Google helps tens of millions of people every day to protect themselves from harm by showing warnings to users of Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox and Apple Safari when they attempt to navigate to websites that would steal their personal information or install software designed to take over their computers. Malware sites or email attachments install malicious software on users’ machines to steal private information, perform identity theft, or attack other computers. When people visit these sites, software that takes over their computer is downloaded without their knowledge. Google’s malware strategy begins with infection prevention by using manual and automated scanners to scour Google’s search index for websites that may be vehicles for malware or phishing. Approximately one billion people use Google’s Safe Browsing on a regular basis. Google’s Safe Browsing technology examines billions of URLs per day looking for unsafe websites. Every day, we discover thousands of new unsafe sites, many of which are legitimate websites that have been compromised. When we detect unsafe sites, we show warnings on Google Search and in web browsers. In addition to our Safe Browsing solution, Google operates VirusTotal, a free online service that analyzes files and URLs enabling the identification of viruses, worms, trojans and other kinds of malicious content detected by antivirus engines and website scanners. VirusTotal’s mission is to help in improving the antivirus and security industry and make the Internet a safer place through the development of free tools and services.

Google makes use of multiple antivirus engines in Gmail, Drive, servers and workstations to help identify malware that may be missed by antivirus signatures.

Monitoring

Google’s security monitoring program is focused on information gathered from internal network traffic, employee actions on systems and outside knowledge of vulnerabilities. At many points across our global network, internal traffic is inspected for suspicious behavior, such as the presence of traffic that might indicate botnet connections. This analysis is performed using a combination of open-source and commercial tools for traffic capture and parsing. A proprietary correlation system built on top of Google technology also supports this analysis. Network analysis is supplemented by examining system logs to identify unusual behavior, such as attempted access of customer data. Google security engineers place standing search alerts on public data repositories to look for security incidents that might affect the company’s infrastructure. They actively review inbound security reports and monitor public mailing lists, blog posts, and wikis. Automated network analysis helps determine when an unknown threat may exist and escalates to Google security staff, and network analysis is supplemented by automated analysis of system logs.

Incident management

We have a rigorous incident management process for security events that may affect the confidentiality, integrity, or availability of systems or data. If an incident occurs, the security team logs and prioritizes it according to its severity. Events that directly impact customers are assigned the highest priority. This process specifies courses of action, procedures for notification, escalation, mitigation, and documentation. Google’s security incident management program is structured around the NIST guidance on handling incidents (NIST SP 800–61). Key staff are trained in forensics and handling evidence in preparation for an event, including the use of third-party and proprietary tools. Testing of incident response plans is performed for key areas, such as systems that store sensitive customer information. These tests take into consideration a variety of scenarios, including insider threats and software vulnerabilities. To help ensure the swift resolution of security incidents, the Google security team is available 24/7 to all employees. If an incident involves customer data, Google or its partners will inform the customer and support investigative efforts via our support team.

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