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What is Gmail’s Enhanced Safe Browsing, and should you use it?

Published Jul 18th, 2023 10:50AM EDT
Google Pixel 6a Software
Image: Christian de Looper for BGR

Google routinely adds new useful features to its Gmail app, like the ability to add Google Calendar events from the email app and inform others of your availability. Enhanced Safe Browsing might be another Gmail trick you’ll want to use inside the app, as it can protect you in real-time from potential phishing attacks.

But there’s also an immediate downside concerning privacy. Turning on Enhanced Safe Browsing for Gmail means sending Google even more personal data. In this case, we’re looking at information about your browsing habits.

Google is actively promoting the Enhanced Safe Browsing feature inside its Gmail apps for Android and the web. Per 9to5Google, the prompts started appearing on Friday, and you might see them during your regular Gmail use on your devices.

Enhanced Safe Browsing can give you extra peace of mind, as Google’s tools will actively monitor your traffic to prevent malware attacks. Here are the security features that come with the Enhanced Safe Browsing mode:

Provide real-time security scanning to warn you about or block dangerous websites, downloads, and extensions.

Improve Google’s ability to detect and protect against phishing and malware for you and everyone on the web.

Give you better protection from dangerous links across Google apps.

As Google explains in its support document, Enhanced Safe Browsing requires the collection of the following data:

Browser extensions
System information
A small sample of pages

Here is how Google will use the information above:

Uses information from Enhanced Safe Browsing to improve your security in Google Chrome and Gmail when you’re signed in.

Temporarily associates information from Enhanced Safe Browsing with your Google Account when you’re signed in to help protect you across Google apps.

There’s no indication here that Google will use that browsing data for other purposes. Also, it’s unclear whether Google would be able to offer enhanced protection without collecting your browsing information.

If you don’t mind sending Google more data, you can easily enable the Enahncd Safe Browsing feature. Just head over to this link to turn on Enhanced Safe Browsing for your Google account.

You can also enable Enhanced protection from within Chrome’s browser settings. Just head over to the Privacy and security menu and choose the Enhanced protection. You might already be using the Standard protection mode in Chrome. But even that feature sends some of your browsing data to Google.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.