Next steps in cyber security awareness

(Cross-posted from the Public Policy blog)

Last week I joined several industry experts to speak at a cyber security panel on Capitol Hill organized by Congresswoman Yvette Clarke and sponsored by the Committee on Homeland Security. The conversation focused on things everyday Internet users can do to help protect their computers and stay safe online. Given that we just wrapped up our observation of National Cyber Security Awareness Month, I thought I'd share some of the key recommendations from the panel:

What are the most important things we all need to do to protect our computers and mobile devices?
You should have the same expectations when using the Internet as you would when exploring a city: you don't give your credit card to the person selling watches on the street just because you recognize the brand, you don't let your kids wander around by themselves and you don't give personal information unless you know who's getting it. If an offer is "urgent" or seems too good to be true, take a step back and research the offer. Add a password to your mobile phone, and browse cautiously on open WiFi networks as you would when using a computer.

What are the most common misconceptions about cyber security?
Many dangerous websites are not designed to be dangerous. In fact, most of the sites that serve malware (malicious software) are innocent sites that have been compromised in one way or another. Your computer isn't necessarily safe just because you're avoiding sites that contain adult content or pirated software. Use reputable anti-virus and anti-spyware programs, and keep your computer operating system and applications updated with the latest software versions.

How do I know if my computer or network has been compromised?
First, disconnect it from the Internet. Take note of any slowness, and if you're not sure how to proceed, get someone with technical expertise to check your network logs for high traffic appearing during times when you're not using the computer. When in doubt, contact a computer support expert.

As President Obama recently stated, cyber security is a shared responsibility. At Google, we recognize how important awareness and education are because many online security threats can only be avoided if we work together.

We spent the month of October exploring cyber security and talking about how to use Google products in a more secure manner. If you haven't seen them already, take a look at the posts we've released over the last month:
Be sure to share the tips you find most helpful with others, and remember to stay safe online.