Google Urges Gmail Users to Enable ‘Enhanced Safe Browsing’ for Faster, More Proactive Protection – but also takes screenshots of your browsing habits

The Washington Post’s “Tech Friend” newsletter has the latest on Google’s “Enhanced Safe Browsing” for Chrome and Gmail, which “monitors the web addresses of sites that you visit and compares them to constantly updated Google databases of suspected scam sites.” You’ll see a red warning screen if Google believes you’re on a website that is, for example, impersonating your bank. You can also check when you’re downloading a file to see if Google believes it might be a scam document. In the normal mode without Enhanced Safe Browsing, Google still does many of those same security checks. But the company might miss some of the rapid-fire activity of crooks who can create a fresh bogus website minutes after another one is blocked as a scam.

This enhanced security feature has been around for three years, but Google recently started putting a message in Gmail inboxes suggesting that people turn on Enhanced Safe Browsing.

Security experts told me that it’s a good idea to turn on this safety feature but that it comes with trade-offs. The company already knows plenty about you, particularly when you’re logged into Gmail, YouTube, Chrome or other Google services. If you turn on Enhanced Safe Browsing, Google may know even more about what sites you’re visiting even if you’re not signed into a Google account. It also collects bits of visual images from sites you’re visiting to scan for hallmarks of scam sites.

Google said it will only use this information to stop bad guys and train its computers to improve security for you and everyone else. You should make the call whether you are willing to give up some of your privacy for extra security protections from common crimes.
Gmail users can toggle the feature on or off at this URL. Google tells users that enabling the feature will provide “faster and more proactive protection against dangerous websites, downloads, and extensions.”

The Post’s reporter also asked Google why it doesn’t just enable the extra security automatically, and “The company told me that because Google is collecting more data in Enhanced Safe Browsing mode, it wants to ask your permission.”

The Post adds as an aside that “It’s also not your fault that phishing scams are everywhere. Our whole online security system is unsafe and stupid… Our goal should be to slowly replace the broken online security system with newer technologies that ditch our crime-prone password system for different methods of verifying we are who we say we are.”

Source: Google Urges Gmail Users to Enable ‘Enhanced Safe Browsing’ for Faster, More Proactive Protection – Slashdot

Robin Edgar

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