A new initiative from Google should make online surfing safer for you. Each week Google will publish reports that tell you which pages are unsafe to visit. Together with another tool, Safe Browsing, Google has become a major player in the fight against malware and phishing, which is much needed, says security expert Janus R. Nielsen from antivirus company MySecurityCenter.

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When Google’s Transparency Report was launched in 2006, its aim was to increase transparency on the world’s largest search engine. In addition to displaying which countries and authorities are enforcing censorship on Google, the company has now added a section to the report that shows how many malware and phishing-infected sites are found via Google’s Safe Browsing technology (see below).

“This new initiative is a step in the right direction, and I believe it shows that Google recognises its responsibility to better inform and protect ordinary users. Every day 10,000 new malicious websites are found, which emphasises the fact that malware is a growing problem,” says Janus R. Nielsen.

Today, Google’s Safe Browsing system has one billion users and with the new reports, people will be able to see how many warnings Google emit weekly (on June 16th there were 88 million). These warnings include malware, where hackers can get access to your PC, and phishing, which is a term for attacks where consumers are tricked into revealing sensitive data, such as account information.

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Google will also show you how quickly websites that have previously been infected with malware become harmful again. “Be aware that Safe Browsing only works on Chrome, Firefox and Safari, so if you use Internet Explorer you will not get warnings from Google but from Microsoft’s SmartScreen filter. However, one can easily use Google’s reports to see overall trends.”

According to Janus R. Nielsen, browser protection systems are excellent additions to an external antivirus program, but it cannot stand alone. “The recent safety report from Microsoft shows that 25 percent of the world’s PC users do not have active antivirus installed, which indicates that many people still need further information about online threats and internet security”, he says, emphasising that browsers’ own protection systems do not include a firewall, which blocks unwelcome traffic into your PC before it enters.

How does Google’s Safe Browsing work?

When searching on Google, a pop-up with a red background warns you against infected pages.

If you try linking to an infected page, the link will be blocked.

You can bookmark and regularly visit Google's weekly reports that show malware and phishing trends by country.

 About the authorJanus R Neilsen

Janus R. Nielsen is CEO and security expert of www.mysecuritycenter.com. Click here to get free PC optimisation - a special offer for PC Advisor readers.