UPDATED 14:39 EDT / JULY 17 2012


Google Scales Up Safe Browsing Efforts for Users, Reports Increased Online Attacks

Ever since Google announced malware and phishing protection for online users, the search engine giant has been doing a great job protecting users from identity and phishing attacks, by issuing timely warnings. To ensure timely and comprehensive detection of threats, Google’s Safe Browsing Team has scaled up its efforts, as they have recognized the increased phishing activity on the web. As reported on its official blog, Google Online Security informed that they find as much as 9500 malicious website every day, send malware warnings for about 300 thousand downloads per day, and show compromised site warning to around 12-14 million user search queries per day.

Let’s take a glimpse at the key findings across the journey of Google’s Safe Browsing Team research:


Though most of the phishing techniques remain the same, the attacks are getting more sophisticated with online users becoming more vulnerable. Attackers have become fast, smart, and more diverse. Targeted spear phishing has become quite common, and are now targeting companies, banks, and merchants globally. A whopping increase of 300K in 2012 from merely 5000 in 2007has been seen, with most susceptible users residing in the Americas, Europe, and some parts of Asia.


When it comes to malware attacks, either legitimate sites are compromised or specialized attack sites are designed to deliver “Drive by downloads” to visitors, which exploits a vulnerability in the browser to execute a malicious program on a user’s computer without their knowledge. For example, a fake anti-virus alert posing itself the genuine warning and drives users to malicious website, leading to malware attack. Around 10,000-12,000 malware attack sites are discovered monthly by Google Safe Browsing Team.

The Future
Owing to the increased malware and phishing attacks, Google is investing significantly in the safe browsing efforts to help users safeguard themselves. Some of its recent efforts include Instantaneous phishing detection and download protection within the Chrome browser, Chrome extension malware scanning, and Android application protection. But yes, they suggest that users should not ignore their warnings that are issued in their benefit only.

Online Privacy – The Primary Concern

Phishing attacks and online privacy are just two sides of the same coin. Either you will be secure or face some kind of attack. Another significant factor that is heating up among online users these days is the “Do Not Track” service, and the good news (not for advertisers) is that most browsers are now supporting it. Microsoft is getting thumbs up for its Do Not Track feature which will be set “on by default” when the Internet Explorer 10 becomes available to the public. The Federal Trade Commission supports this as they are for protecting the privacy of the people but advertisers are against this.

Do not Track is meant for advertisers so they won’t know your web activity so they can’t push you annoying ads based on what you’ve been browsing on the internet. Not only Microsoft, but Yahoo is also supporting the Do Not Track for all its projects, and said it will deploy the support of Do Not Track on all their web projects by early summer of this year to meet a growing concern with respect to user data privacy. Google too introduced this feature in its Chrome browser as an extension. Named as Keep My Opt Outs, the extension lets users to permanently opt out ad-tracking cookies from not only Google’s networks but also others, and follows an earlier announcement by Mozilla it’s adding a do-not-track feature directly into Firefox.

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