Google is aggressively promoting Enhanced Safe Browsing on Gmail, but what is it?
Google explains enabling Enhanced Safe Browsing to provide “real-time” security scanning to warn users about malicious websites, software, and extensions.
- Google has rolled out a prompt for users to enable “Enhanced Safe Browsing” on Gmail.
- Enabling this feature provides real-time protection against malicious websites, software, and phishing.
- Users can manage Enhanced Safe Browsing in their Google account settings.
If you’ve opened Gmail on your web browser lately, chances are you must have noticed a prompt reading, “Enhanced Safe Browsing.” There is an option to delay or dismiss the prompt, but it might have piqued your interest. After all, who does not want to be safe on the internet amid surges in online scams? Google says enabling “Enhanced Safe Browsing” helps users “to get faster and more proactive protection against dangerous websites, downloads, and extensions.” It works automatically and improves your security in Google Chrome and Gmail.
The prompt started rolling out last week and more users are seeing it. Google explains enabling Enhanced Safe Browsing to provide “real-time” security scanning to warn users about malicious websites, software, and extensions. It also seemingly improves Google’s ability to detect and protect against phishing and malware for you and everyone on the web. Google adds that it gives users “better protection” from dangerous links across Google apps.
To manage Enhanced Safe Browsing for your account, users need to open the Google account > Select security on the left > scroll and find Enhanced Safe Browsing for your account > Enable or disable it.
Google adds that it might take up to 24 hours for the setting to come into play.
Google’s update comes at a time when online scams are on the rise. With the rapid expansion of free-to-use generative AI platforms, scammers may find it much easier to tailor convincing email scams, even those via Gmail. Although the Enhanced Safe Browsing can have many benefits, Google is also collecting data to safeguard privacy. The official FAQ notes:
“To help protect your account and data, Enhanced Safe Browsing for your account checks for risks: URLs, Downloads, Browser extensions, System information, and Small sample of pages.”
Google has suggested that collected data is anonymised after a short period of time to protect privacy. However, CNET, citing a Princeton and Stanford universities study, notes that “anonymised data, including search histories, can be linked to social media profiles using publicly available data.”
The feature may also hurt new developers as they may have to wait for Google’s trusted certification. That’s because the company has lately started following strict developer programme policies. A waiting period of months could potentially hurt new developers. From the users’ side, Enhanced Safe Browsing is a good option, but users need to follow basic hygiene to ensure online protection. This includes avoiding downloading software from untrusted sources and checking for URLs.