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Google Opens Up the Use of its Safe Browsing API to Protect In-App Browsers

March 26, 2015 - Written By Stephen Sard

It has happened to even the most careful among us; we wonder into an area of the internet filled with danger around every corner, malware behind every click, phishing attacks abound. OK, maybe it is not so dramatic, but the internet is full of real danger. Most of the time when we encounter this danger, our browser sends out a warning to avoid the website or avoid clicking on a link. This is thanks to Google’s Safe Browsing, which is a database of scrupulous websites that have been found to contain malicious threats, as well as browser features to help keep users safe. The Safe Browsing API is being used by both Chrome and Firefox (as well as other browsers based on the two) to protect users. Last month, Chrome browser added the ability to also show warnings about software downloads as well, and it seems that they are opening up this new feature as well as the previous features to not only other browsers such as Firefox, but to application developers as well.

Many of us use browsers that are contained inside applications just about every day. Feedly is a good example of this type of in-app browser. We click a news story and Feedly opens a browser right in the app so that we do not have to leave the app to read more about the article in which we are interested. It is a huge convenience that we take for granted every day. However, these in-app browsers have not offered the same type of security features that applications such as Chrome provide. Now, Google has introduced the Safe Browsing API to allow application developers the ability to protect their users by using these protections to keep them from potentially wandering into unsafe areas. In a blog post by Emily Schechter, Safe Browsing Program Manager for Google, she noted that: “any app that wants to save its users from winding up on sites that lead to deceptive software could use our API to do precisely that.”

According to the blog, Schechter noted that Google would continue this integration across all of Google such as Chrome and Google Analytics to keep their users safe. The Safe Browsing API will go a long way to preventing accidental damage via such threats as malware, phishing, or unwanted software (such as search bars). Hopefully, app developers will take this chance to implement these protections, though that could take some time to fully deploy across some of your favorite apps. Until then, make sure to take the proper precautions that one should normally take. Do not click on links that you are unsure of and do not download any software from sources you do not trust.