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Google Chrome more vulnerable to phishing attacks than Firefox

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·Finance Reporter, Yahoo Finance UK
·3-min read
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Google Chrome - a woman walks past the logo for Google at the China International Import Expo in Shanghai, Nov. 5, 2018. Google says its Russian subsidiary is planning to file for bankruptcy because it can’t pay staff and suppliers. Russian state media reported Wednesday, May 18, 2022 that the U.S. tech company’s Russian subsidiary submitted notice of its intention to declare bankruptcy to a national registry. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan, File)
Google Chrome only blocking a quarter of phishing websites. Photo: Ng Han Guan/AP

Google (GOOG) Chrome is the worst web browser for detecting and blocking phishing attacks despite being the most used in the UK.

Consumer group Which? said that a study searching the web addresses of 800 newly discovered phishing sites in a web browser saw Google’s Chrome block only 28% when used on Windows and 25% on an Apple (AAPL)Mac computer.

The Firefox browser was the best performer, preventing 85% of phishing attacks on Windows and 78% on Mac.

Firefox prevented more phishing attacks than Microsoft (MSFT) Windows default browser Edge which blocked 82% of the phishing attacks, and the Apple MacOS default browser Safari which blocked 77% of the attacks.

Opera meanwhile only managed to prevent 56% on both Mac and Windows operating systems.

Read more: Queen's Speech: New law to make banks reimburse scam victims

Phishing scams are those where criminals create messages that look genuine in order to trick consumers into clicking a link to a bogus website where viruses could be installed on their device, or having them hand over personal information which can be used to gain access to financial information or online bank accounts.

“It’s incredibly alarming to see that a huge company like Google is allowing the security of its users to be exposed in this way — a gift to fraudsters who are constantly trying to use phishing attacks as a launchpad for scams that can have a devastating impact on victims,” Which? computing editor Lisa Barber said.

“If you are worried about your safety online, remaining vigilant when clicking a link, installing a top-quality free or paid antivirus package, keeping your browser up to date and signing up to our free scams alerts email will all massively increase your protection from malicious websites.”

In response to the findings, a Google spokesperson said: "This study’s methodology and findings demand scrutiny. For more than 10 years, Google has helped set the anti-phishing standard — and freely provided the underlying technology — for other browsers.

"Google and Mozilla often partner to improve the security of the web, and Firefox relies primarily on Google's Safe Browsing API to block phishing – but the researchers indicated that Firefox provided significantly more phishing protection than Chrome. It’s highly unlikely that browsers using the same technology for phishing detection would differ meaningfully in the level of protection they offer, so we remain sceptical of this report’s findings.”

Read more: MPs call for tech giants to reimburse fraud victims for scam ads

Which? said if “browsers such as Firefox can do this there is no reason the UK’s most popular browser should be falling short.”

To help counter such scams, the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) advises people to consider carefully before clicking any link they are sent, unsolicited, by an organisation. It also encourages people to look for tell-tale signs including poor spelling or grammar, or a sense of urgency in the messaging to try to encourage a rash decision.

Watch: Phishing scam red flags to look for

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