Google is continuing to refine its Safe Browsing API and now is giving users warnings about not just malicious software on sites they’re attempting to visit, but also about unwanted software.
Google’s Safe Browsing API is designed to help protect users from a variety of threats on pages across the Internet. The functionality is built into Chrome, as well as Firefox and other browsers, and when a users tries to visit a page that Google’s crawlers or other users have reported to be hosting malware, phishing links or other types of threats it will throw up a warning dialog. Depending upon the type of threat found on the target page, the browser will give the user various types of information and options.
Google started showing Chrome users warnings about deceptive or unwanted software last month, but now that information will be fed into the Safe Browsing API so that other browser vendors, as well as app developers, can pull it into their offerings.
“In addition to our constantly-updated malware and phishing data, our unwanted software data is now publicly available for developers to integrate into their own security measures. For example, any app that wants to save its users from winding up on sites that lead to deceptive software could use our API to do precisely that,” Emily Schechter, safe browsing program manager at Google, said in a blog post.
Deceptive, or unwanted, software is a fairly broad category of applications that includes things such as browser extensions that change your home page or modify the settings in your browser. These applications sometimes are bundled with other software or downloaded in the background, sometimes without a user’s knowledge. They can also include spyware or adware that collect users’ data and pretend to be something other than what they really are.
Google defines deceptive software broadly as “programs disguised as a helpful download that actually make unexpected changes to your computer”.
Image from Flickr photos of Parkesmj.