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Google to Enhance Chrome Safe Browsing with Real-Time Protection

Chrome gets real-time anti-phishing with Google's Safe Browsing update. Encrypted checks block 25% more threats while protecting user privacy.


has announced an update to its Safe Browsing feature, set to roll out to all users later this month. This upgrade aims to provide real-time malware and phishing protection without compromising . Since its inception in 2005, Safe Browsing has served as a defense mechanism against web-based phishing attacks, blocking malicious domains involved in malware distribution, unwanted software, and social engineering schemes. An optional Safe Browsing Enhanced Protection mode is available, offering AI-powered attack prevention through deeper scans of downloaded files.

Real-Time Protection and Privacy

The forthcoming update signifies a shift from the current method, where Safe Browsing checks websites, downloads, and extensions against a locally stored list of malicious URLs updated every 30 to 60 minutes. Google intends to transition to real-time checks against its server-side list to effectively counteract the rapidly appearing and disappearing malicious websites. This enhancement is expected to block an additional 25% of phishing attempts by verifying sites in real-time. Google emphasizes the privacy-centric nature of this update, ensuring that the process is encrypted and employs privacy-enhancing techniques to prevent any entity, including Google, from knowing which websites users visit.

Advanced Privacy Techniques

The implementation of Safe Browsing's real-time protection leverages a new API that utilizes Fastly Oblivious HTTP (OHTTP) relays. These relays are designed to obscure the URLs of visited sites, with users' partially hashed URLs sent to Google's Safe Browsing engine via an OHTTP privacy server. This server conceals users' IP addresses and amalgamates the hash checks with those from other users, enhancing privacy protection. Furthermore, hash prefixes are encrypted before being transmitted to the Safe Browsing service, ensuring that neither Google nor Fastly can associate users' browsing activities with their identities.

Google's collaboration with Fastly introduces a robust framework for privacy preservation, where the privacy server, operated independently by Fastly, strips potential user identifiers such as IP addresses before forwarding the encrypted hash prefixes to the Safe Browsing server. Upon receipt, the Safe Browsing server decrypts the hash prefixes and proceeds with the server-side list check. This sophisticated approach underscores Google's commitment to safeguarding user privacy while enhancing security measures against phishing and malware threats. The update, which also extends to devices, represents a significant advancement in the ongoing effort to protect internet users worldwide.

Luke Jones
Luke Jones
Luke has been writing about all things tech for more than five years. He is following Microsoft closely to bring you the latest news about Windows, Office, Azure, Skype, HoloLens and all the rest of their products.

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