Google is expanding the use of its Safe Browsing mechanism to warn users about a broader variety of unwanted software, in addition to the warnings they see regarding phishing pages, malware, and other threats.
Safe Browsing is the service that Google uses to help protect Chrome users from malicious software and sites. The service defends against phishing and other threats by checking URLs against a database that Google maintains of malicious sites. The system also checks for sites that are suspected of serving malware. Google provides and API for Safe Browsing and it’s used in both Firefox and Safari.
The company said that it is planning to expand the kinds of software that Safe Browsing warns users about.
“In the coming weeks, these detection improvements will become more noticeable in Chrome: users will see more warnings about unwanted software than ever before,” Moheeb Abu Rajab and Stephan Somogyi of the Google Safe Browsing team said in a blog post.
“Unwanted software is being distributed on web sites via a variety of sources, including ad injectors as well as ad networks lacking strict quality guidelines. In many cases, Safe Browsing within your browser is your last line of defense.”
Unwanted software isn’t necessarily malware but can include things such as adware or other apps that don’t perform the function they promised, gather user information without the user’s knowledge, spy on users’ activities. or perform other unwanted actions. Google officials said that the Safe Browsing service won’t be used to warn users about anything other than dangerous sites.
“We want to be really clear that Google Safe Browsing’s mandate remains unchanged: we’re exclusively focused on protecting users from malware, phishing, unwanted software, and similar harm. You won’t see Safe Browsing warnings for any other reasons,” Abu Rajab and Somogyi said.