Fri, Mar 13, 2015 - Page 14 News List

Google’s ‘safe browsing’ system targets shady sites


Get ready to see more red warning signs online as Google Inc adds ammunition to its technological artillery for targeting devious schemes lurking on Web sites.

The latest weapon is aimed at Web sites riddled with “unwanted software” — a term that Google uses to describe secretly installed programs that can change a browser’s settings without a user’s permission.

Those revisions can unleash a siege of aggravating ads or redirect a browser’s users to search engines or other sites that they did not intend to visit.

Google had already deployed the warning system to alert users of its Chrome browser that they were about to enter a site distributing unwanted software.

The company just recently began to feed the security information into a broader “safe browsing” application that also works in Apple Inc’s Safari and Mozilla Corp’s Firefox browsers.

All told, the safe browsing application protects about 1.1 billion browser users, according to a blog post yesterday that Google timed to coincide with the 26th anniversary of the date when Tim Berners-Lee is widely credited for inventing the World Wide Web.

Microsoft’s Internet Explorer does not tap into Google’s free safe browsing application. Instead, Explorer depends on a similar warning system, the SmartScreen Filter.

Google yesterday said that the safe browsing application has been generating about 5 million warnings a day, a number likely to rise now that unwanted software is now part of the detection system.

As it is, Google says it discovers more than 50,000 malware-infected sites and more than 90,000 phishing sites per month.

The safe browsing application had gotten so effective at flagging malware and phishing that shysters are increasingly creating new unwanted software in an attempt to hoodwink people, Google product manager of safe browsing Stephan Somogyi said.

“The folks trying to make a buck off people are having to come up with new stuff and that puts us in a position where we have to innovate to keep pace with these guys,” Somogyi said.

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