Google Chrome now better protects you against risky websites and weak passwords

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Google Chrome logo with hand holding a lock next to it

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Google has rolled out a couple of changes to beef up its Chrome browser’s security. In a blog post published on Thursday, the company described updates to its Safe Browsing and Password Checkup features designed to counter today’s persistent hackers.

“Cybersecurity attacks are constantly evolving, and sometimes the difference between successfully detecting a threat or not is a matter of minutes,” Google said in its blog post. “To keep up with the increasing pace of hackers, we’re bringing real-time, privacy-preserving URL protection to Google Safe Browsing for anyone using Chrome on desktop or iOS. Plus we’re introducing new password protections on Chrome for iOS as another way to help you safely navigate the web.”

Available now in Chrome for desktop and Chrome for iOS, and coming to Chrome for Android later this month, the new capability in Safe Browsing will check for suspicious and malicious sites in real time.

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Until now, Chrome’s standard level of protection used a list stored on your PC or mobile device to determine if a site or file is potentially malicious. Google updates that list every 30 to 60 minutes. The company has found, however, that the average malicious website stays active for less than 10 minutes.

To keep up with these dangerous, transient websites, Safe Browsing will now check a server-side list maintained in real time by Google. If a site is deemed to be risky, Chrome will flash a warning with more details. Google said that checking sites in real time this way should block 25% more phishing attempts.

The new capability takes advantage of encryption and other technologies to make sure that no one, not even Google, knows what site you’re visiting, the company explained. Currently, Safe Browsing guards against phishing attempts, malware, unwanted software, and other threats on more than 5 billion devices around the world. The tool analyzes more than 10 billion URLs and files each day, issuing more than 3 million warnings daily.

To check your Safe Browsing settings in Chrome for desktop or mobile, head to Settings, select Privacy and Security, and then select the option for Safe Browsing. At a minimum, you’ll want to enable Standard protection if it’s not already turned on. You can also try Enhanced protection, which uses AI to thwart attacks, conducts deep file scans, and protects you against malicious Chrome extensions.

Chrome's Safe Browsing protection

screenshot by Lance Whitney/ZDNET

Next on the list is an update to help you keep track of vulnerable passwords in Chrome. In the past, Chrome’s Password Checkup feature would alert you if it detected a password that may have been compromised due to a data breach or other threat.

Now, in Chrome for iOS, the tool will also warn you about weak passwords and ones you’ve reused at multiple sites. For this to work, however, you must be using Chrome’s built-in password manager to save and store your website credentials.

Chrome's Password Checkup

screenshot by Lance Whitney/ZDNET

The Password Check automatically hollers if it finds a vulnerable password. But you can also check yourself. In the Chrome desktop browser or mobile app, go to Settings, select Privacy and Security, and then select the option for Safety Check. Click or tap Check Now to run a manual scan.





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