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Is Google’s Enhanced Safe Browsing really safe to use?

Google Enhanced Safe Browsing

In today’s digital era, data is the new oil. But with applause comes caveats. Yes! While data is essential for most things in the digital world, data breaches pose a great risk, with cybercriminals setting their crosshairs on organizations and individuals to steal sensitive information. This information could be anything from personal data to financial records. That’s where Google’s Enhanced Safe Browsing claims to save the day.

According to Identity Theft Resource Center, a whopping 422 million people fell victim to online data breaches and other forms of data theft last year alone. These numbers jumped 40% compared to 2021. Well, Google offers Chrome users tools that can help them protect their data from falling into the hands of people with nefarious intentions.

One such feature is Enhanced Safe Browsing, which was rolled out in 2020 and updated in the following years. Google boldly claims that using this service could lower the risk of falling prey to phishing scams by 35%. But are these claims really true? Let’s get into the nitty-gritty.

Google’s Enhanced Safe Browsing explained

Well, at least once, every one of us has received an email that appears to be from a human resource department of a company or bank with an important digital document. However, these seemingly harmless links or documents are traps set up by cybercriminals to get their hands on personal information, including passwords, funds, computer access, or gaining data for future exploitation.

Google’s promotion of Enhanced Safe Browsing mode in Gmail has caught the attention of many users. People have started noticing a banner on top of their Gmail list highlighting the tool’s benefits, which offers “additional protection against phishing.” Google says activating Enhanced Safe Browsing for Chrome and Gmail provides added protection, such as advanced warnings when you visit suspicious websites. This mode also closely monitors the web addresses of these sites. It allows you to be more vigilant and adds an extra layer of security against potential online threats.

When using Google’s Enhanced Safe Browsing, you get red warning screens if you visit websites that appear to impersonate legit entities, such as banks. Moreover, when you download files, Google will identify any potential scam documents. Even in the standard mode, the tool runs several security checks to protect users from potential threats.

While Google’s security measures could definitely boost your online security, there might be trade-offs that users might ignore. Enabling these tools will allow Google to access more detailed insights into an individual, which could potentially hamper one’s online privacy.

How Google’s Enhanced Safe Browsing can actually be helpful

First and foremost, enabling Enhanced Safe Browsing in Chrome will enable you to be wary of sites that can be “phishy.” These regular scans come to your rescue from unknowingly sharing your data with malicious actors, potentially saving you both time and money. Besides, the feature offers you peace of mind while surfing the web.

Before you hop onto the hype train and download a new extension from the Chrome web store, Enhanced Safe Browsing informs you whether the extension can be trusted or not. Trusted extensions follow the guidelines put in place by the Chrome Web Store Developer Program Policies, providing a higher level of security and reliability.

Not just that! The tool also scans files before downloading them, effectively trimming the possibility of downloading suspicious files. However, in cases where the files can be deemed potentially risky but not unsafe, Chrome will seek your consent to send them for a more comprehensive analysis by Google. These scans would only take a few minutes, so if you can hold your horses, you might save yourself from a potential phishing attack.

Google will also conduct scans of usernames and passwords to check for potential data breaches and information that has been compromised. This approach will also help you dodge potential headaches. In case of a data breach, Google will notify you well ahead of time, giving you a warning before fraudulent charges or other security loopholes are found.

But what’s the catch?

Google probably knows about you as much as your close ones (just kidding, it knows more!). Well, this data is collected when you log into services like Gmail, YouTube, or Chrome. Enabling Enhanced Safe Browsing potentially allows the company to extract additional data about the websites you visit, even if you are not signed into a Google account.

This data also includes collecting visual elements from visited sites to scan for potential signs of scam websites. While this feature might elevate your security against cyber attacks, it is imperative for you to be aware of the data-sharing implications and take a call on whether the protection is overweighing their privacy concerns.

Google claims that the data collected through the tool is only meant to boost security and protect you from potential threats. The information collected trains the company’s systems to provide improved security. So why isn’t Google providing enhanced security by default? Well, probably because the company seeks users’ permission before it starts collecting additional data.

Still here? Then here’s how to activate it!

To activate Enhanced Safe Browsing for your Google account, follow these steps:

  • Open Chrome on your computer.
  • Navigate to
  • Click on “Security” at the top of the page.
  • Locate the switch under “Enhanced Safe Browsing” for your account.
  • Click on the switch, then proceed to the next page.
  • You’ll find another switch next to “Enhanced Safe Browsing”; click on it.
  • Finally, click “Turn on” to enable Enhanced Safe Browsing for added security.

For your Android and iOS devices:

  • Open Chrome.
  • Tap on the three dots (…) in the top-right corner.
  • Select “Settings.”
  • Choose “Privacy and Security.”
  • Tap on “Safe Browsing.”
  • Opt for “Enhanced Protection” to enable the additional security features.

That said, if you aren’t fully convinced or ready to share additional data with Google, here’s what you can do to boost your online security. It’s no rocket science, but rather old-school repetitive methods. For starters, always be suspicious of web links and refrain from clicking on links in emails, texts, or social media without considering their authenticity. These cautious practices should be enough to significantly reduce the risk of falling prey to malicious threats online.

Vishal Kawadkar
About author

With over 8 years of experience in tech journalism, Vishal is someone with an innate passion for exploring and delivering fresh takes. Embracing curiosity and innovation, he strives to provide an informed and unique outlook on the ever-evolving world of technology.