For years, numerous Chrome desktop users have been protected against malicious sites in cyberspace, thanks to Google’s Safe Browsing feature. This feature has saved billions of unsuspecting users from malware and phishing sites, which can steal their private information or install harmful codes onto their PCs.
Much to the delight of mobile users, just recently Google has upped their game by extending its safe browsing feature to Android phones and tablets as well.
How to get the Safe Browsing client
The new Safe Browsing client is automatically installed along with Google’s updates, beginning with version 8.1 of Google Play services. So, if your phone is running on Android, chances are, you’re already being protected.
To verify that the Safe Browsing feature is up and running, simply check the settings of your Google Chrome browser and go to the Privacy menu. Under Privacy, there should be an item titled “Safe Browsing” with a check mark right next to it. In case it’s unchecked, simply tick the box and restart your browser. With this feature enabled, you are allowing Chrome to alert you in case you wander off to a potentially malicious site. It keeps the big bad guys at bay.
Protection then versus protection now
Prior to Safe Browsing, Android has been continuously improving its defenses against harmful games and applications through sandboxing. This keeps one app’s data and code execution isolated from other apps, so as to prevent any malicious code from harming the host device. However, potentially harmful apps aren’t the only threats to mobile users.
Users spend a lot of time surfing the net, and with all the seemingly harmless links and advertisements appearing on webpages, it’s so easy to enter a malicious site. Thus the need for a different protection – browser security, which comes in the form of Safe Browsing.
Every bit counts
But why wasn’t it delivered to Android sooner? This is because aside from having to keep an updated roster of harmful webpages, the developers also needed to mind data size, for two reasons: (1) cellular data costs money, and (2) cellular data is a lot slower and more unstable than Wi-Fi connection.
If Safe Browsing were data-heavy, it would be difficult for users to get the right protection, especially those tethered to low-speed networks. It’s important, then, that maximum protection is given while maintaining a small data size. That’s why you can expect updates to be compact.
The Safe Browsing client is also carefully crafted to maximize protection while minimizing not only data but also battery usage. Memory and processor usage is kept to a minimum – the client runs quietly as you surf the net.
The developers also made sure that Safe Browsing did not interfere much with the network traffic, so that users can experience the same fast browsing offered by Chrome. Google combined all its teams’ efforts to produce a client that’s efficient, reliable, and does not burden your smartphone.
Safe Browsing tailors its services according to the user’s location. Because some web attacks are localized, it prioritizes those that are specific to your geographic region. Also, Safe Browsing sends information regarding the most high-risk sites first, before anything else. Thus, safety is efficiently ensured.
The changing world
Nowadays, people are glued to the screens of their smartphones more than their computers’ or TVs’. And for good reason – smartphones are handy, and the game is being led by powerful operating systems, such as Android. News from around the globe can reach smartphones faster than the blink of an eye, and social media access has never been easier. With the increasing reliance on mobile services, specifically mobile internet, Safe Browsing is a necessary tool for every Android user’s safety.