Safe Browsing is a widely used list of dangerous URLs maintained by Google that helps keep users away from malicious sites. Protecting four billion devices every day, Google is now building on the blocklist API with Enhanced Safe Browsing in Chrome to “substantially increase protection from dangerous websites and downloads.”
Enhanced Safe Browsing is rolling out with a suite of other security and privacy measures in Chrome 83 today. Google touts it as providing a “more advanced level” of browsing protections as “one-size-fits-all” approaches to security are not viable against the most persistent threats.
Phishing sites rotate domains very quickly to avoid being blocked, and malware campaigns are directly targeting at-risk users. We’ve realized that to combat these most effectively, security cannot be one-size-fits-all anymore.
It involves users sharing real-time data to Google Safe Browsing so that Chrome can provide proactive security. At the moment, Chrome checks the URL of every site you visit against a local list that is downloaded every 30 minutes. However, “sophisticated phishing sites” are getting around 30-minute updates by quickly switching domains.
The enhanced protection works by sending “uncommon URLs in real time” to determine whether you’re about to visit a phishing site. Chrome will also send a “small sample of pages and suspicious downloads.” Additional measures are active if you’re signed in to Chrome with Gmail, Drive, and other Google services working with Chrome to provide a “holistic view of threats” on the web and attacks against your Google Account.
Google is readying additional protections like tailored warnings for phishing sites and file downloads, as well as cross-product alerts over the next year.
On the privacy front, the sent data is temporarily linked to your Google Account. Google says this is to tailor Safe Browsing’s protections to “your situation,” with the data getting anonymized after a “short period.”
Enhanced Safe Browsing is rolling out gradually with Chrome 83 for Mac, Windows, Linux, and Chrome OS. You must opt-in to take advantage of the new measures:
Settings > Privacy and Security settings > Security > Safe Browsing > Enhanced protection
It’s coming to Chrome for Android in a future release, with “Standard protection” and disabling Safe Browsing entirely also available.
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