What is Safe Browsing?
Safe Browsing is a service, run by Google, that catalogs fraudulent or malicious websites. It’s integrated into several major browsers—including Brave, Chrome, Safari, and Firefox—so that they can warn you if you’re about to visit such a site. Edge uses a similar (though slightly different) service that’s run by Microsoft.
What kind of sites does Safe Browsing warn about?
There are two major categories of malicious sites: phishing and malware.
Phishing (pronounced “fishing”) sites mimic legitimate sites. Their purpose is to trick people into entering their usernames and passwords for the legitimate site, so the phisher can steal that information and gain access to a person’s account on the site.
Malware sites try to get users to download malicious software, such as ransomware or spyware, which can have all sorts of damaging effects. It can steal or delete your data, or even leave your device unusable.
Is there a downside to Safe Browsing?
Safe Browsing provides a useful and important service, but it affords Google a huge amount of control. It means that Google has the power to decide whether billions of devices will see a dire warning upon going to a website. And being erroneously flagged by Safe Browsing can be devastating for a website’s traffic. While Google does have a process in place for Website owners to clear an erroneous flag, this process can be tedious and time consuming, and forces a website’s owner to work with Google to correct the error.
There is also a privacy downside: Google may sometimes see your IP address when your browser consults Safe Browsing to check if a site is safe.
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