Google has been aggressively pushing its users to enable Enhanced Safe Browsing. Bleeping Computer reported that the message to enable the security feature appears even after users reject the invitation. Google insists that this will help users stay safe, and users with the feature enabled are 35% less likely to become victims of online scams. However, turning it on comes with a few drawbacks, including giving Alphabet more detailed access to user browsing habits, associated accounts, and overall online behavior.
What is Enhanced Safe Browsing, and how does it work?
The feature is not new. A version of it has been around for more than fifteen years. The tool had a facelift a few years ago, and Google had another push. Google stated that when users enable Enhanced Safe Browsing, Chrome activates a cyber security feature that allows live accurate threat assessment. In real-time, Google knows which sites users visit and checks whether the site is blacklisted or flagged for malicious activities. The feature also sends parts of downloaded files for investigation if Google thinks those files could be malicious. If the analysis determines possible threats, it starts preventing other users from being able to download them and warns others when entering the questionable websites hosting such files.
Why the concerns?
The fact that Alphabet’s Google is actively pushing its users to enable the feature raises some privacy concerns. The tech giant already collects vast amounts of data on its users, and many believe that by enabling this feature on Chrome, users might start sharing even more than before with the tech conglomerate. Google admits that the stored data is temporarily linked to an associated account, used for some time, and then anonymized. Hence, it is no longer connected to the profile that gathered it. However, cyber security experts confirm that the collected data could easily be connected to real persons only using information publicly available online.
Should you trust it?
Google, and its partners, already know a lot about you, so if privacy is of little importance to you, enabling the feature might be helpful. By allowing the tool to operate, you get some protection and help Google protect other users. Keeping the feature off might be your best option if you prefer not to share as much with big tech. Some people choose to enable the feature to stop receiving constant reminders to turn it on.
Is it enough? No, not really. Even though the feature could be helpful, having proper antivirus software installed on all connected devices is necessary. Antivirus software prevents users from being in the wrong place and time and often comes with features such as VPN that allow safe browsing without compromising privacy.