Google Images is a great tool for finding pictures and is available for everyone. However, some people are asking, “are Google Images safe?” Such reports suggest that some Google Images contain threats such as malware and hidden executable code. In this article, let’s dive deeper into the question “are Google Images safe?”
Can You Get a Virus From Google Images?
The answer to that question depends on how you use them. When you type something and hit the search button, you’ll see a list of image results called thumbnails. What you see in thumbnails is just a preview of the original photos from the Google server. Google has re-encoded these graphic files to represent a smaller version of the image.
Hence, this point does not present any risk since you’re dealing with Google rather than a malicious site. You can even safely download the preview by right-clicking on it. However, things are different when you left-click on one of the thumbnails. Once you do, the picture enlarges and appears in a black frame and you’ll see relevant search results at the bottom.
Things are different here as you’re now retrieving the file directly from its host website. This exposes your PC to all the risks that opening an unknown source entail. Clicking on the “visit page” or “view full image” may also be unsafe since you’re again traveling through the image’s main page.
What Are Your Chances of Getting a Virus?
Some say that the chances are very small because Google checks the photos before archiving them. If a website contains viruses, Google will remove its phots from the thumbnails so you won’t even see them. However, Google only scans once and does not repeat the process while displaying the photos. If the source alters the image after publishing it, it will remain on Google’s archive as a legitimate file.
Sometimes, even the website itself falls victim to cybercriminals. Threat actors may hack the website and inject a virus into its content. Hence, this gives users a false perception of the website. In conclusion, it’s more likely to get a virus from opening a Google Image since it’s a massive source of badware in the virtual world.
However, the claim is true only if you have a vulnerability in your system.
Are Google Images Safe? The Bottoline
Should you stop using Google Images? The answer may vary depending on what phots you typically search for and why you search them. If you need photos for blog posts or other commercial purposes, it might be better to buy images from reputable photography websites. Doing so protects you against copyright infringement and potential viruses. Furthermore, these websites provide better-quality photos.
On the other hand, Google Images is a better and cheaper solution if you need an image for personal use (e.g. desktop photo).
Regardless of the option you choose, you must follow these security precautions:
- Update your web browser.
- Use the latest photo viewer.
- Check the site’s reliability before enlarging its photos.
- Install a reputable antivirus and keep it updated.