June 26, 2013
Google Brings Safer Browsing Experiences Through Transparency Reports
Michael Harper for redOrbit.com – Your Universe Online
In what could be seen as part transparency and part self-promotion, Google will now begin including the number of malicious websites they find with their Transparency Reports. This new section of the report will display how many users receive a safe browsing warning alerting them about a potentially dangerous website.
The search company has been looking for malware and phishing sites since 2006 and shares this technology with other browsers as well. Google claims there are now nearly one billion people who use their safe browsing technology either through Chrome or a different browser. The newly updated Transparency Report also lists the amount of time it takes webmasters to rid their sites of the malicious infection once they’ve been made aware of it.
Websites which have become infected with malware can infect computers that browse the site, often with the user unaware of what is even going on. Phishing sites also leave the user’s computer infected with a virus, but these attacks are more targeted than sites infected with malware, which wait for people to browse by. For example, malware-infected sites are just that — a site which has been infected with malicious code. A phishing site, on the other hand, is malicious right from the beginning and often resembles a legitimate site to persuade browsers to hand over sensitive information like bank account numbers and email passwords.
In its blog post, Google claims they find and flag as many as 10,000 malware and phishing sites every day.
According to the new Transparency Report, more than 78 million users saw a Safe Browsing warning in the first week of June 2013, a spike that hasn’t been seen before. A lesser 49 million people were warned about potentially harmful sites when they performed a Google search.
Many of these are legitimate sites says Google, but have fallen prey to hackers who want to use the site to target browsing passersby.
Though warnings seem to be on the rise, the time it takes webmasters to respond to an infection is down from 2007 when Google first began collecting this information. Six years ago webmasters took on average 90 days to respond to and clean up an infection. These days webmasters respond in around 40 days, peaking at 50 in March.
“This is about making the Internet a safer environment,” explained Niels Provos, a Google engineer who explained the new Transparency Report to the Washington Post.
“Safety doesn’t happen in a vacuum. It’s almost like they are playing a game with us and trying to figure out a way around protections offered by users. Our game is to be one step ahead of the adversaries,” Provos explained.
Google regularly releases these reports to list the number of removal and user data requests it receives from governments and copyright holders. Currently the company is fighting the federal government to allow it to list precisely how many user data requests they’ve received as a part of PRISM.