Chrome security update warns against sneaky software downloads as well as malware

Google wants to foil unwanted downloads. Its latest security tool throws up a big, red warning when you're about to visit such sites.

Google is adding a new warning to Chrome in its continuing efforts to protect users from harmful actors on the web. The new red flag for Google's browser warns you when you're about to visit a site that encourages users to download harmful and unwanted software.

Chrome isn't the only site sending out warnings. Other browsers, such as Firefox, also warn about potentially harmful sites.

Google's definition of unwanted programs isn't just about malware, but also tricky programs that try to sneak onto your system. The search giant defines unwanted software as anything with dishonest behavior, such as piggybacking on the installation of another program, apps that are difficult to remove, and software that fails to live up to its advertised functionality. Even software that changes your homepage--a not uncommon occurrence--can qualify as unwanted software from Google's point of view.

The impact on you at home: Chrome users with the latest updates should start seeing the warnings pop up in Chrome when navigating to a site with harmful software downloads. The new pop-up is similar to warnings you get for sites that are malicious: a large red screen that tells you the site you're about to visit might try and trick you into installing unwanted software. Users then have the choice to get more details (and presumably carry on aware of the risks) or return "to safety" at the Google homepage.

More than just browsers

In addition to the changes to Chrome, Google is also tackling unwanted software with other parts of its business. Google is working to filter deceptive sites from its search results. The company is also disabling ads that lead to sites offering unwanted software.

That last bit is particularly important, because advertising can often be a weak spot for malware delivery or leading people to questionable sites. In January, a "malvertising" attack using Google's AdSense program automatically redirected users to bogus websites selling anti-aging and supposed "brain-enhancing" products.

The new Chrome security warnings join other security features, such as warnings about potentially harmful programs you're about to download and sites known to deliver malware.

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