Google IT & Web-tech News

Google Expands Safe Browsing, To Now Flag Deceptive ‘Social Engineering’ Ads

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Google announced on Tuesday that it is expanding its Safe Browsing initiative, bringing in a whole new feature. The web giant said that it is now done with deceptive tactics that try to trick you into doing something dangerous, like installing unwanted software or revealing your personal information.

The company will now flag and warn users when they come across any deceptive content. The technical term for this sort of content is “social engineering” advertisements.

Most of us have seen this sort of stuff pop out when we log on to a few websites. These are buttons or prompts that suggest that they perform an important task like downloading or streaming a video, updating softwares on your computer etc but in fact, either download malicious programs, malware etc or make you reveal personal information like your passwords etc. They are heavily littered across Torrent websites or websites that provide pirated content etc.

The company had announced in November that it would protect you from social engineering attacks like this and it has worked up to its promise. The company’s Safe Browsing initiative has been very active as of late. We saw Chrome over most platforms become safer a couple of months ago, we saw better security in Gmail just last month and the likes. This suggests that Google is highly focused on making the Web a safer place for everyone.

Previously, Safe Browsing targeted tactics that were used to trick users into installing malicious software or revealing personal information. With today’s announcement, these protection schemes will now extend to ads.

The mechanism of the latest Safe Browsing scheme is similar to previous approaches. In case, a user comes across a website flooded with “social engineering” ads, he/she will be redirected to a warning message stating clearly what the problem is. This will be followed by a buttons- a “Back to Safety” button to get back to browsing. This doesn’t completely block the website for people still wanting to visit it.

Here’s what Google had to say about how the websites will be flagged:

If visitors to your web site consistently see social engineering content, Google Safe Browsing may warn users when they visit the site. If your site is flagged for containing social engineering content, you should troubleshoot with Search Console. 

The security improvement starts rolling out into the web today.


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