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Security & privacy

Malware alert: Do not ignore this warning on your phone

Browsing the internet can sometimes seem like the Wild West. Many hidden dangers are lurking around every corner, and you must be armed to fight them off. But no gunslinger can do that alone and often needs the help of a sidekick to combat malware and malicious links.

Keeping your operating system up to date and ensuring you have sufficient antivirus protection is a good start. However, web browsers and developers sometimes step in to secure your details and safeguard your devices.

Read on for details on the warning that you must never ignore.

Here’s the backstory

If you run into a pop-up message while exploring the web, your spidey senses might tingle and fear it could be malicious. That’s good on you. Many pop-ups are malicious notifications that will infect your device with malware if you click them.

But there’s a new red notification from Google that you shouldn’t ignore. It’s not malicious at all. In fact, it’s there to protect your device from the malware you fear.

Billions of people use Google Search daily, and many use Android as their operating system. As a result, the tech giant is regularly looking for ways to stop cybercriminals from attacking its users.

One of these initiatives started in 2007 when Google first launched Safe Browsing for Chrome. Built into the browser, it warns you if the website ahead contains malware, fake links or is generally considered unsafe.

So, if you browse the internet through Chrome and come across a bright red warning screen, don’t ignore it. That is Google Safe Browsing at work and gives you details of the issue.

“Google Safe Browsing helps protect over 4 billion devices every day by showing warnings to users when they attempt to navigate to dangerous sites or download dangerous files,” Google explains.

Now, Google Safe Browsing is available for Android devices.

Google Safe Browsing for Android

Two years ago, Google expanded on its safety features by launching Enhanced Safe Browsing Protection. This lets you choose a more advanced level of security while browsing. In addition, Google explains that Chrome can proactively protect you against dangerous sites by sharing real-time data with Google Safe Browsing.

Here’s how to turn on Safe Browsing on Chrome’s desktop app:

  • Launch the Chrome browser.
  • In the top right corner, click on the three-dot menu button and click on Settings.
  • Then, click on Privacy and Security and click on Security from the options in the block.

The next screen displays the Safe Browsing options. Here you can choose which level of protection you desire. Options include Enhanced, Standard or No protection at all.

  • Enhanced protection is faster, proactive protection against dangerous websites and warns you about password breaches.
  • Standard protection provides security against websites, downloads, and extensions known to be dangerous.
  • No protection doesn’t provide you with any security, and we don’t recommend it.

The steps for turning on Safe Browsing on an Android device are similar. On your device, open Chrome and tap on More and then on Settings. Next, tap on Privacy and Security and then Safe Browsing to choose your protection level.

Safe Browsing works across all Google products and services, such as Search, Gmail and Google Ads. As long as you activate it through Chrome and use it as your default web browser, it doesn’t matter if you use Android or iOS. Apple’s Safari browser uses Google’s Safe Browsing Update API to keep users safe.

While Google’s Safe Browsing tool is helpful, you should also have a trustworthy antivirus program protecting all of your devices. We recommend our sponsor, TotalAV. With TotalAV, you’ll get free antivirus protection, but it offers so much more. It’s a suite of security tools that protect all of your devices.

Right now, get an annual plan with TotalAV for only $19 at That’s over 85% off the regular price!

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