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Safety & Security

How Google is protecting you from scams this Scams Awareness Week 2023

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Just as technology continually advances, so too do the threats we face online, as scammers look for new ways to exploit people.

Google protects more people online than anyone else in the world and we do that by continually investing in and developing our technology and systems to protect people and stay ahead of these threats.

This week, we join local partners in marking Scams Awareness Week, and we’re highlighting some of the measures we’ve taken to help Australians stay safe online. From preventing scam ads, to blocking phishing emails, and quickly warning people away from navigating to fraudulent websites, stopping scams on our platforms is our top priority.

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Preventing Scams in Advertising

One of our key focus areas is protecting people from ad scams and fraud - and we are constantly working to strengthen our policies and proactive enforcement.

We detect scam ads through a combination of both AI and human evaluation, a process which helps ensure ads on our platform are adhering to the strict policies we have in place, including policies against misrepresentation and enabling dishonest behaviour. In addition, we make it easy for people to report scam ads if they see them.

We’re also proud to have announced an expansion to our verification program for financial services advertisers in Australia. This requires financial services advertisers in Australia to demonstrate that they are authorised by the Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC), and have completed Google’s advertiser verification program in order to promote their products and services through ads. This helps people to make more informed decision before they click on any links.

Built-in Security Protections on Android

Google Play Protect uses machine learning to automatically scan 125 billion apps everyday protecting you from most malware and unwanted software. This is the most widely deployed mobile threat protection service in the world.

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Android, by default, requires you to opt-into allowing instals from unknown sources, meaning any distribution mechanism that is outside of the Google Play Store and other pre-loaded app stores. This helps ensure you’re not accidentally downloading apps and instead making a very conscious decision to install an app from one of these sources.

And, there are multiple layers of protections, including:

  • Phone by Google which helps protect against voice phishing and scams with built-in caller ID, spam protection and Call Screen by blocking dangerous calls and warning you about suspicious callers,
  • Messages by Google and Gmail which use AI to spot suspicious messages by assessing the reputation of the sender, looking for known patterns and dangerous links.
  • Chrome download warnings that alert you if you’re about to download an Android (APK) file, ensuring you’re aware a link is about to trigger a download of an app.
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Protecting You From Malicious Websites

Launched in 2005 as an anti-phishing plugin for the Firefox browser, today Google Safe Browsing protects more than 5 billion devices across the world, and provides more protection in cases where a link may have looked legitimate.

We’ll warn you if it looks like the site is dangerous and is attempting to phish your credentials. People can simply click on the “Go back to safety” option to avoid going to a malicious site or download a malicious file.

A phone screen with a warning saying 'deceptive site ahead'

Keeping you Safe While Shopping This Christmas

Before products and merchants can list on Google, we make sure they undergo an in-depth safety review which verifies that each business is legitimate and the products you see are accurate. We can do this thanks to the Shopping Graph, our data set of the world’s products and sellers, and this automated vetting process allows us to efficiently and accurately review a huge amount of products.

We have clear policies for shopping which cover product listings and shopping ads, giving people the confidence that what they see is what they’re buying.

Our safety efforts go beyond listings and policies, with our systems continually monitoring for policy-violating or suspicious activity, supported by our team of human reviewers. When we see violations, we take a range of actions from removing suspicious listings to banning a merchant from listing on Google.

How Android Helps you Keep Safe when downloading apps

All these initiatives play an important role in helping Australians stay safe and alert from scams on our platforms.

We know there’s always more work to do and we commit to deepening our investment and continuing to take action to protect you from scams.