Safe Browsing is one of Google’s most widely-used products. You’re probably using it right now, as a matter of fact. If you use Google Chrome, a Chromium-based browser like Opera, Vivaldi, or Brave, or even Firefox, guess what? Google’s Safe Browsing is helping you stay out of trouble right now.
Google introduced Safe Browsing back in 2007 as a way to protect folks from phishing attempts. Today Safe Browsing does a whole lot more. It provides an added layer of defense on more than 4 billion devices. It helps ensure Google Ads don’t send you to dangerous websites, helps filter malicious search results, and spots dangers in your Gmail inbox.
Shady websites — and dangerous pages planted by hackers on otherwise reputable sites — are popping up all the time. Keeping Safe Browsing on top of these emerging threats is a lot of work even when staffed by some of the best coders in the world.
That’s where you come in. Google wants your help in the never-ending battle against malicious activity on the Web.
You don’t have to be a cybersecurity expert or even know how to write a single line of code to pitch in. All you need to do is install an add-on for your browser.
It’s called Suspicious Site Reporter, and it takes a “three strikes” approach to determine whether or not you might want to report a site. It will flag any site that is not among the 5,000 most popular. If you’ve never visited the site or you’ve gone a long time between visits, that warrants a second flag.
The final check is based on the domain name. Suspicious Site Reporter looks for any unusual characters in the address. If it finds any, that’s a flag.
The extension’s icon changes color to let you know whether the page you’re currently looking at has raised its suspicions. If something doesn’t look quite right, you can click the extension icon and click “send report” to notify Google.
It’s important to note that the extension itself doesn’t actually provide any extra protection — but quality user submissions will help make Safe Browsing more effective and that, in turn, will protect you better.
If you’ve stumbled across a suspicious website before and wished you could let the good guys know about it, this add-on is just what the doctor ordered. It’s currently only available for Chrome, but Google has opted to share the extension’s source code. It could find its way to other browsers if a capable developer decides to take up the task.