Saturday, November 15, 2008

Google to save the world

Ok not really, but most of you have noticed Google now using it's search heuristics to track outbreaks of the flu across North America. link

This could be exciting news for the health and science, but what is more exciting to me in IT security is their integration of Google Safe Browsing into Firefox 3. This to me is the single most powerful and simple security feature added to a browser since the gold padlock indicating encryption.

Here is how it works, Google does all the heavy lifting and tracks malware infections based on the site that distributes them. Once a site reaches the threshold of malware infections it is deemed unsafe browsing and added into Google's Anti-Malware database. Google released an API to quickly check the database for URL in real-time from a browser. So if you visit a site which is in the database you are redirected to a warning page letting you know this site is unsafe and gives links to detailed information on the malware and number of infections. You of course can bypass it and proceed to your site, but the average user will be effectively deterred from browsing.

Firefox 3 now comes standard with this feature.

Did I mention Google is working to cure world hunger and cancer in ten years?

Thank you Google, really.