Google sneaks in upgrade of Safe Browsing API, says it’s been guarding some users for months

Trusted Contacts
Google’s Emily Schechter and Alex Wozniak, of its Safe Browsing team, said on Friday that new versions of the Safe Browsing APIs (v4) are available. Safe Browsing essentially collects and provides a list of suspected unsafe sites on the internet so that devices surfing the world wide web are halted in their tracks before they access a suspicious, possibly malicious site. Safe Browsing also alerts websites if they’ve been hacked, and provides information on how to clean up the problem.

The first set of Safe Browsing APIs provided for developers was released back in 2007. Since then, web surfers have shifted away from primarily using desktops and notebooks for accessing the Internet to depending on tablets and smartphones on a day-to-day basis. Because of that, Google has optimized Safe Browsing for the mobile device user, providing maximum protection “per bit” to ultimately save everyone time and money.

Safe Browsing currently protects more than two billion internet-connected devices worldwide. The new version of the protocol actually launched in December by way of the Safe Browsing client baked into the Android version of Google’s web browser, Chrome, as of version 46. This client is part of the company’s overall Google Play Services suite, and reportedly protects Google’s Android Chrome customers by default.

This new APIs (aka application program interface) essentially let Android developers insert access to the Safe Browsing service within their Internet-connected apps. This prevents developers from having to create their own Version 4 clients, and fills in the gap until Google releases actual device-local APIs in the near future.

The Safe Browsing APIs consist of a simple Lookup API and a more complex Update API. For the former, apps using this API can send URLs to the Safe Browsing server to see if they’re safe or unsafe. The drawback to using this API is that URLs are not hashed, and there’s no guarantee of how long these URL investigations can take on the server end.

The latter solution, the Update API, actually allows apps to download encrypted versions of the Safe Browsing lists for local, on-device URL checks. This API is used by Chrome, Safari, and Firefox, and not only exchanges data with the server using hashed URLs, but speeds up the response time because URL checks are done locally. The drawbacks to this solution include having to create a local database, and the need to know how to deal with complex URL checks.

“Version 4 clients can now define constraints such as geographic location, platform type, and data caps to use bandwidth and device resources as efficiently as possible,” the team said in Friday’s blog. “This allows us to function well within the much stricter mobile constraints without sacrificing protection.”

With the release of Version 4, the older Version 3 set of Google’s Safe Browsing APIs is now depreciated, and thus all Safe Browsing API customers should switch over to the new version. However, Google said that it will continue to support clients using Version 3 until early 2017. No actual termination date was provided.

Developers wanting to integrate Safe Browsing into their apps can check out a reference client implementation of the Version 4 APIs written in Go here, which also includes a Safe Browsing proxy server supporting JSON. Developers can sign up to use Safe Browsing APIs by grabbing a key here.


FCC to help first responders pinpoint 911 callers in multistory buildings

When someone calls 911 from their cell phone, wireless carriers provide operators with an approximate location. Now the FCC wants the carriers to provide vertical location data to pinpoint 911 callers inside multi-story buildings.

Still miss Windows 7? Here's how to make Windows 10 look more like it

There's no simple way of switching on a Windows 7 mode in Windows 10. Instead, you can install third-party software, manually tweak settings, and edit the registry. We provide instructions for using these tweaks and tools.

Make some time for the best smartwatch deals for March 2019

Smartwatches make your life easier by sending alerts right on your wrist. Many also provide fitness-tracking features. So if you're ready to take the plunge into wearables and want to save money, read on for the best smartwatch deals.

Tablet or notebook? Our favorite 2-in-1 PCs give you the best of both worlds

If you can’t decide if you need a tablet or a notebook, then don’t bother. The best 2-in-1 laptops are both, and they can provide all the power you need. Check out our list for the best 2-in-1s for any user.

Got gadgets galore? Keep them charged up with the 10 best USB-C cables

We're glad to see that USB-C is quickly becoming the norm. That's why we've rounded up some of the better USB-C cables on the market, whether you're looking to charge or sync your smartphone. We've got USB-C to USB-C and USB-C to USB-A.

Looking for a Chromebook? The Google PixelBook just got a $200 price cut

Once relatively obscure, Chromebooks have come into their own in a big way in recent years. One of our favorites is the super-sleek Google Pixelbook, and it's on sale right now from Amazon for $200 off, letting you score this premium laptop…

Nvidia’s GTX 1650 graphics card could be just a slight upgrade over the 1050 Ti

Rumors suggest Nvidia might soon launch the GTX 1650, and a leaked benchmark listing from Final Fantasy XV suggests that the new graphics card could be just a slight upgrade over last generation's GTX 1050 Ti. 

Get ready to say goodbye to some IFTTT support in Gmail by March 31

If This Then That, the popular automation service, will drop some of its support for Gmail by March 31. The decision comes as a response to security concerns and is aimed to protect user data.

Get the new Dell XPS 13 for $750 with this limited-time deal

Dell is currently running a limited time deal lasting through Thursday, March 28, where you can bring home a version of this year's new XPS 13 for around $750 with the use of a special coupon code. 

This is the easiest way to save your iPhone data to your computer

Living in fear of losing your contacts, photos, messages, and notes on your iPhone? Fear no more -- in this guide, we'll break down exactly how to back up your iPhone to your computer using Apple's iTunes or to the cloud with iCloud.

Here are the best iPad Pro keyboard cases to pick up with your new tablet

The iPad Pro range can double as laptops, but they do need proper keyboards to fill in effectively. Thankfully, there are loads to choose from and we rounded up the best iPad Pro keyboard cases right here.

Microsoft’s Clippy came back from the dead, but didn’t last very long

Before Cortana, Alexa, and Siri even existed, Microsoft Clippy dominated the screens of computers in the 1990s to help assist Microsoft Office users when writing letters. He recently made a bit of a comeback only to die off again.

Nvidia faces attacks from AMD, Intel, and even Google. Should it be worried?

Nvidia announced an expanded array of RTX server solutions designed to leverage the power of ray-tracing at GTC 2019. The effort will help Nvidia take on Google's Stadia in game streaming with GeForce Now, and the company's investments in…

How 5G networks will make low-latency game streaming a reality

Faster speeds and more bandwidth are some of the many promises that 5G can deliver, but for gamers, the most important thing is low latency. To achieve low latency, carriers like AT&T and Verizon are exploring hybrid models for game…