Safe browsing is a service created by Google’s security team to detect unsafe websites across the web and warn users and webmasters of potential harm. In this article, we will explore the history of this service, how it works, and the challenges it faces.
Safe browsing History
It was in 2005, that a small team within Google started a project aimed at flagging possible social engineering attacks. They wanted to warn users when a webpage might be trying to trick them into doing something prejudicial. This project developed and gained its name when it was launched in 2007 to protect users across the web from phishing attacks.
After the launch, it has evolved to give users tools to help protect themselves from malware and unwanted software across desktop and mobile platforms.
When you load a page in most popular browsers or choose an app from the Google Play Store, Safe Browsing is working behind the scenes to check for malicious behavior and warn you of anything that might be malicious. These warnings are shown to users when they attempt to navigate to dangerous sites or download dangerous files.
The safe browsing service also shows webmasters when their websites are compromised by malicious actors and helps them diagnose and resolve the problem so that their visitors stay safer. This protection to both the end target and the source’s unaware owner helps close the cycle in a very efficient way.
How Safe Browsing works and challenges
Google’s Safe Browsing service examines billions of URLs and its software and content in its search for unsafe websites. Through this process, they are able to identify malware that would be installed on a user’s machine to steal private information or take control of the user’s machine and attack other computers.
Some common types of malware include ransomware, spyware, viruses, worms, and Trojan horses. Ultimately when they detect this malware on any of the URLs, they trigger the warning that will help protect users.
However, setting up such a large system to track the web is not easy and the biggest challenge is still how to flag and block bad things without mislabeling legitimate activity or even letting anything malicious slip through.
There are tons and tons of websites and apps available, so the potential for malicious activity is pretty big. You can see for yourself this graphic showing the number of unsafe websites detected per week by Google safe browsing.
In this continuous fight against cybercrime, Google safe browsing as any other online security provider will have to continue to perfect their techniques to keep up with the advances of the strategies used by cybercriminals.
The challenge of distinguishing suspicious activities from legitimate ones will be prevalent, but even though there might be some mistakes coming from this, the results of these security efforts are visible. If we add user’s increasing awareness to the work of online security providers the results will only be improving, so remember to navigate safely and responsibly.