Google releases Suspicious Site Reporter extension for Chrome

Martin Brinkmann
Jun 20, 2019
Updated • Jun 20, 2019
Google Chrome, Google Chrome extensions

Suspicious Site Reporter is a new browser extension by Google for the company's Chrome web browser that provides users with options to report sites to the company.

The extension has two main functions: to report sites to Google and to highlight if Google found anything suspicious about the site.

Suspicious Site Reporter adds an icon to the Chrome toolbar when you install it in the browser. The icon indicates when it detects something that it classifies as suspicious. A badge added to the icon indicates the number of issues detected on the page.

Not all of these issues are bad necessarily; imagine my surprise when Suspicious Site Reporter detected a issue on Ghacks. Turns out the site was flagged because it is not in the Top 5K of websites on the Internet.

google-chrome suspicious site reporter


The menu displays information that the extension collected about the site. The source code, which Google published on GitHub, highlights all alerts that the extension may display to its users:

  • Domain uses uncommon characters (use of IDN).
  • Not a top 5K site.
  • Site was not visited in the past 3 months.

That's all that is checked by the application. The check for uncommon characters in domain names is arguably the most useful of the three as phishing sites may use IDN to look similar to the "real" site.

The panel highlights the data that will be submitted when users hit the "send report" button. Some data needs to be submitted, URL and IP address, while screenshots, DOM content, and the Referrer Chain are optional.

Closing Words

Suspicious Site Reporter is not particularly helpful at this point in development. The main reason for that is that it makes three checks currently that can't really be used to determine if a site is dangerous. While the uncommon domain name characters check is somewhat useful, the two other checks are not really. Google Chrome does protect against lookalike domains already, however.

Any site not visited by the user is flagged by the extension, and so are all sites that are not in the Top 5K.  It needs to be noted as well that the extension does not protect you from sites.

Ultimately, it looks more like an effort on Google's part to collect data about sites visited by the user (if reported) than something that can really prevent users from interacting with dangerous sites on the Internet.

Google released another extension in 2015 called Password Alert which suffered from similar design choices.

Now You: do you use extensions like Suspicious Site Reporter?

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  1. Zo said on June 21, 2019 at 7:51 pm

    Sounds like another new way for Google to force their political bias on people.

  2. ULBoom said on June 21, 2019 at 12:14 am

    This is beyond worthless, the whole point of google getting links and continuously updating their database of phishing and malware sites is to weed out the bad guys. Once in great while I get a warning on a site and usually go elsewhere.

    This extension has some bizarre arbitrarily defined reasons for a site to be classified suspicious. What is with google’s recent flurry of inane activity?

    It would be nice if google would go back (way back) to providing services instead of continuing to try and think for users. The google employee herd needs to be radically thinned.

    1. Alex T said on June 21, 2019 at 10:26 am

      +1 Just like they also decide your site isn’t “interesting” enough based on algorithms that purport to weed out keyword stuffing and yet present a dozen near identical pages for a given query none of which actually have useful content to the query but have lots of click bait quality terms.

  3. censor bob said on June 20, 2019 at 10:24 pm

    Is anyone really surprised at each new chrome version or extension they release? I’ve been in IT for decades and I’ve never installed chrome on my personal computers or phones. Even their search engine went off a cliff and hit every rock on the way down where it exploded into a fireball. It’s mind numbing having watched it go from the incredible information mine of yesteryear to the poop show it is today, just like its HQ state, california. Google programs its algos/ai to do anything for a higher stock price and big money will pay them to get the job done. These are the consequences when you support a mega monopoly. And don’t even get me started on its dumpster fire proxy firefox.

  4. John Fenderson said on June 20, 2019 at 4:58 pm

    Not being in the top 5000 websites makes a site suspicious?? That’s utterly bizarre and unsupportable, and in my view renders the judgement wholly unreliable.

    “do you use extensions like Suspicious Site Reporter?”

    No, I don’t see the need — but if such extensions are using criteria like “not being popular enough”, then they aren’t really fit for purpose anyway.

    1. BlockChrome said on June 21, 2019 at 2:40 am

      Only sites using Google Analytics might have issues. Otherwise, Google won’t know about site visits. Anyway, if your sites’ reputation gets damaged, just sue Google and get rich.

      1. Alex T said on June 21, 2019 at 10:22 am

        Let me fix your post: it’s not sue Google and get rich, its get rich so you can sue Google…and lose anyway. They do destroy businesses – just get into a bidding war on AdWords.

      2. BlockChrome said on June 21, 2019 at 4:39 pm

        Alex, That’s a myth proven false by the way how the legal system works. So just grow up, do your homework, and stopping posting nonsense.

      3. Alex T said on August 8, 2019 at 8:16 pm

        Completely incorrect on every level. The legal system has been changed to prevent redress by such clauses which have in fact been (rarely but sometimes) disallowed.

        What an infantile reply to tell me to do my homework. It is not nonsense, and surely you must be some sort of “libertarian” Fox News or 8chan troll.

      4. Alex T said on June 22, 2019 at 10:47 am

        Have you ever read any Terms of Use or EULA lately? You can’t even sue anymore, as they make you waive your right to sue and instead use Arbitration – which they pick the arbitrators. Oh, and sue against giants like Google or Microsoft? No class action suits, sorry millions of users that could never individually suing them anyway – you have to waive those rights, too. Just saying “Good morning” to any attorney that could even have their calls returned by Google will cost you $1500.00.

        Not a myth, reality. That is if you actually read news.

  5. basicuser said on June 20, 2019 at 4:44 pm

    I rely on uMatrix to flag questionable sites.

    This scheme will tend to keep people in the dark about most sites in the world, and nudge them toward “approved” sites as determined by Google.

    It can also be abused by trolls to flag sites over political & social issues.

    But not to worry, Nanny Google will protect us from the big, bad world and wrap us in it’s own bubble.

    1. Klaas Vaak said on June 20, 2019 at 6:45 pm

      @basicuser: +1

  6. Anonymous said on June 20, 2019 at 3:15 pm

    Edge is doing the same with SmartScreen blocklist. Apple is doing the same in Safari. But no Google is the problem for the drama queens here. Haters gonna hate.

    1. Alex T said on June 21, 2019 at 10:19 am

      Aside from your comment being homophobic, it’s also way off target. Google has too much power, full stop. And no, that is NOT what SmartScreen does: it checks downloads for unsigned or flagged software. Google is just saying “Hey, your site is not one of the maybe 10,000 sites out of many hundreds of millions that’s in the top 5000. That’s not security. It’s like saying a Bentley continental is a suspicious car because it’s not as “popular” as Toyota.

      1. ActualHomo said on June 25, 2019 at 12:40 pm

        That’s not homophobic, get your facts together…

        But yeah, obviously google’s “filter” is going to be biased when they hold all the cards.

      2. Alex T said on August 8, 2019 at 8:25 pm

        Drama Queens coming from presumably some IT dork is usually homophobic. And if your are some alphabet person, pick one of the many expanding letters we are supposed to distinguish as not the 99% norm, you should have the same consideration to not insult us. Are you a Normaphobe? Drama Queens are, well, Queens. Those of us who are not LGBTXYZABCDEF are not queens.

    2. ULBoom said on June 21, 2019 at 12:22 am

      They’re not the same at all. All browsers have malware and phishing filters. This is not those filters it’s yet another piece of google idiotware from the people who describe chrome as a browser based user ad data collector. At least they’re honest about being creeps.

    3. John Fenderson said on June 20, 2019 at 6:52 pm

      My problem isn’t that Google is doing it, my problem is that the criteria they’re using to determine what counts as a suspicious site is ridiculous. I’d react exactly the same if Microsoft or Apple used the same criteria.

  7. kalmly said on June 20, 2019 at 2:39 pm

    Any site that expresses views that differ from Google’s or is owned by someone whose politics differ from Google’s will be flagged as suspicious, then dangerous, and next they will be blocked.

    And that is my prediction.

    1. Sebas said on June 20, 2019 at 7:14 pm

      Political censorship, yes. That’s what will happen next. The only solution is to break up Google, Facebook and others.

    2. Klaas Vaak said on June 20, 2019 at 6:44 pm

      @kalmly: +1

  8. Klaas Vaak said on June 20, 2019 at 1:15 pm

    How sweet, how touching, all this concern Google shows for users. This is an extension that reports suspicious sites to Google, which also, purely innocently and unintentional of course, reports to Google, and therefore the NSA, which sites the user has visited.

    1. Spectacle said on June 25, 2019 at 12:33 pm

      They already have your data if you are using chrome, this is like wearing two pairs of glasses.

  9. chesscanoe said on June 20, 2019 at 12:49 pm

    I installed this extension yesterday and removed it today.
    1) It flags too many sites I regularly visit, so the user sensitivity to the potential problem is quickly dulled and thus ignored.
    2) Checking Extensions after installing this extension shows the Google Dictionary is in need of repair. Clicking Repair works to fix the problem. I can not say for sure this is a cause and effect situation however.
    3) I personally do not like over ten extensions installed at a time, and see no reason to break my rule by installing this extension permanently.

    1. ExtendedReductor said on June 25, 2019 at 12:31 pm

      Yeah, same here, rule of 10, but I generally stay at 4-6 depending on browser, I just can’t find that many actually useful extensions anyway. I am always thunderstruck at all these people with 20/30+. That ain’t right.

  10. Alex T said on June 20, 2019 at 9:11 am

    This is a terrible tool. To flag any site not in the to 5K is ludicrous. So, what, 99.9999999999% of all websites are suspicious? They already hurt small companies in Google rank because that too is fueled in part by popularity. Popular sites stay that way because they rank high in Google results.

    Seriously, f*ck Google already. They are pure evil.

    1. zyme said on June 20, 2020 at 11:56 am

      That’s why the title should’ve read: “Google releases a suspicious Site Reporter extension for Chrome”.

    2. Bio said on June 20, 2019 at 1:52 pm

      Your malware sites are going to be flagged. Your evil actions are going to be punished, deal with it. Seriously, your sh*tty malicious company is f*cked and we don’t care about it.

      1. Alex T said on June 21, 2019 at 10:03 am

        What?!? They aren’t flagging malware, they are flagging sites that are not in the top 5% of sites. That’s not protection, that’s actively discriminating against 99%+ of all websites. Who’s malicious company are you referring to, or is that just really meant as some sort of sarcasm.

    3. BlockChrome said on June 20, 2019 at 1:50 pm

      Nobody prevents you from blocking Google Chrome and telling Web site visitors to use a different Web browser/search engine.

      1. Alex T said on June 21, 2019 at 10:01 am

        Only if you want to lose 90+% of all people visiting your site.

  11. Dustyn said on June 20, 2019 at 7:51 am

    Soooo…. wouldn’t it be easier to integrate this into Google Chrome? Why an extension?

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on June 20, 2019 at 7:57 am

      Don’t think that this is going to happen: would confuse many users, would irritate site owners, and Google is probably aware that it is not super-useful.

      1. Alex T said on June 20, 2019 at 9:12 am

        This add-on should irritate site owners as much as if it were part of Chrome: it’s created and promoted by Google.

  12. Benjamin said on June 20, 2019 at 7:40 am

    …so from an alternative point of view the corporation relies on millions of private wannabe police hidden in their digital homes just waiting to detect and project law and order as they see fit and even report this to an higher order… as is usual in todays modern world, the rules and definitions are under tight non public control and absolutely non democratic.

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