New Android tool alerts users of potential web threats

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What you need to know

  • Google is now rolling out Android Safe Browsing as a server-side update to Android devices.
  • Android Safe Browsing can identify if a website or link is known to be harmful, for example, if it is part of a phishing operation.
  • Third-party apps can use Android Safe Browsing if they support it, presumably with the inclusion of the SafetyNet Safe Browsing API.

Google is starting to roll out Android Safe Browsing, a new feature that appeared in beta software as early as October 2023 but was not officially announced. Android Safe Browsing will identify harmful or dangerous webpages and alert users to their content, and the feature was found by Android expert Mishaal Rahman on X

"Safe Browsing alerts you to security threats, like harmful links and webpages, when you browse within certain apps," Google explains on the Android Safe Browsing page. "For example, you might get an alert if you tap a link in your news app that would take you to a known phishing site."

Since Android Safe Browsing is part of Google Play Services, users should not need to update their devices in order to see the feature. Google is starting to send out Android Safe Browsing this week as part of a server-side change, but it could take some time for every Android phone to get it. 

You can find the Android Safe Browsing page and any apps that support it in the Settings app. On a Pixel smartphone, navigate to Settings > Security & Privacy > More Security & Privacy and tap Android Safe Browsing. On Samsung phones, navigate to Settings > Security & Privacy and tap Android Safe Browsing

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After opening this page, you'll be greeted with the explanation of Android Safe Browsing and a list of supported applications. Additionally, there's a toggle for Use live threat protection. This option is only explained as "the latest version of Safe Browsing" using "more accurate threat detection."

We don't know exactly what is required for an app to support Android Safe Browsing. However, Rahman suspects that apps supporting the SafetyNet Safe Browsing API are included, and this seems plausible. The SafetyNet Safe Browsing API helps apps figure out whether a website or link is malicious by cross-checking it against Google's databases. 

If you try to open a malicious link in an app that supports Android Safe Browsing, a notification will pop up as a warning. Ideally, this warning will give users pause before they continue into a page that could be a threat, such as a phishing or scam website. 

After your Android device receives the server-side update for Android Safe Browsing, it will be enabled by default. 

Brady Snyder
Contributor

Brady is a tech journalist covering news at Android Central. He has spent the last two years reporting and commenting on all things related to consumer technology for various publications. Brady graduated from St. John's University in 2023 with a bachelor's degree in journalism. When he isn't experimenting with the latest tech, you can find Brady running or watching sports.