Google enables real time checks in Chrome's Safe Browsing security feature
Google announced a range of new features and changes for its Chrome web browser to celebrate the browser's 15th birthday. Among the changes are a bit of fresh paint for the browser's interface, a redesigned Chrome Web Store for browser extensions, the sidebar search feature, and also a change to how Safe Browsing works.
Safe Browsing is a security feature that is designed to protect Chrome users from opening websites that Google considers dangerous. It is like an antivirus program, but for the browser. Safe Browsing is also informing webmasters about issues, as some issues may be the result of hacks or modifications that the webmaster is unaware of.
Up until now, Chrome downloaded new Safe Browsing information from Google regularly. Google speaks of 30 to 60 minute intervals.
Soon, Chrome will switch to real time checks. Google notes that cyber criminals have become more sophisticated. About 60% of phishing domains, for example, exist for only 10 minutes according to Google.
The old update interval is too slow to protect users against these fast attack threats. Google estimates that the switching to real time checks will improve protections against malware and phishing by 25%.
The update will roll out in the next couple of weeks to the entire Chrome population.
Third-party browsers that use Safe Browsing
Chrome is not the only web browser that uses Safe Browsing. Many Chrome browsers do as well, and so does Mozilla's Firefox web browser. The change may affect some browsers, especially those that download the lists frequently, but it is unclear at this point.
Some browsers, like Brave Browser, proxy requests to Google Safe Browsing to protect the IP addresses of their users.
We asked Mozilla and Brave Software for statements regarding the change and will update the article once we have received replies.
A spokesperson for Mozilla provided the following statement regarding the change: "There is no impact to Firefox users. Chrome uses v5, and we use v4 that remains maintained."
Brendan Eich provided the following statement: "Google’s SBv5 preserves the privacy properties we rely on. In particular, URLs are not sent to a server (unlike in Microsoft's equivalent system). We plan to enable in Brave, but not before Chrome finishes their roll out and we set up proxies to protect our users' IP addresses."
Microsoft maintains its own list and uses it for protection in its Edge web browser.
Regardless of whether the Safe Browsing checks happen against a locally downloaded list or online in real-time, Google is aware of them in Google Chrome. For users, it improves security as Safe Browsing protection's against malicious sites that are pulled quickly by their creators are improved.
Now You: are real time checks a step in the right direction?