Google Updates Safe Browsing to Block Unwanted Software

Google is set to extend the Safe Browsing capabilities in Chrome, in a move which is likely to result in users seeing more ‘red screen’ warnings about potentially unwanted software.

Moheeb Abu Rajab and Stephan Somogyi of the web giant’s Safe Browsing Team claimed in a blog post that their ability to detect “deceptive software” has been improving.

“In the coming weeks, these detection improvements will become more noticeable in Chrome: users will see more warnings … about unwanted software than ever before,” they explained.

The two were at pains to point out that Safe Browsing warnings would only flash up and block the user’s path, if malware, phishing, unwanted software or “similar harm” is associated with the web address the user wants to visit.

They added:

“Unwanted software is being distributed on web sites via a variety of sources, including ad injectors as well as ad networks lacking strict quality guidelines. In many cases, Safe Browsing within your browser is your last line of defense.”

Google claimed its Safe Browsing service has been protecting users from phishing and malware since way back in 2006, and from unwanted software from 2014.

Somogyi and Abu Rajab urged users to tick the box at the bottom of all Safe Browsing warning pages so that details of possible security incidents are automatically reported back to Google HQ.

Ad networks are commonly used to spread malware and other nasties, with varying degrees of severity.

It’s no surprise; the return on investment for cyber-criminals is potentially huge, given that they have a ready-made distribution network that could reach millions of users in one fell swoop.

Malvertising services are also fairly cheap on the cyber-criminal underground – less than a dollar to expose 1000 consumers to malicious ads.

Back in January, Malwarebytes revealed a malvertising campaign targeting the AOL ad network which may have exposed as many as 1.8 billion web users – visitors of sites including Yahoo News and the Huffington Post – to the Neutrino Exploit Kit.

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