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Chrome browser will block more malware downloads

Juan Carlos Perez | Nov. 4, 2013
Google has developed a security feature for Chrome that lets the browser detect and stop malware downloads.

Google has developed a security feature for Chrome that will allow the browser to block more types of malware download.

Browser hijacking and other browser-based malware infections are on the rise and Google needs to protect Chrome users with native security features, the company said. It is testing the feature in a pre-release version of the browser.

"Online criminals have been increasing their use of malicious software that can silently hijack your browser settings. This has become a top issue in the Chrome help forums; we're listening and are here to help," wrote Linus Upson, a Google vice president, in a blog post.

The security feature will trigger an alert, displayed in the download tray at the bottom of the screen, saying that Chrome blocked a malware file from being downloaded. Malicious hackers typically disguise these files as harmless applications, like screensavers and even security updates, to trick users into downloading them.

When installed, this type of malware wrests control of the browser, changing settings, such as the default home page, and displaying unwanted ads. The security feature has been designed to detect and block this sort of stealthy, tricky malware. The new capability also makes the alerts more direct, and makes it more difficult for users to download the suspect file if they choose to do so, a Google spokeswoman said.

Google's post initially made it sound like blocking downloads was a new feature for Chrome, but it updated its post later to say the feature is just being improved. All the major browsers block malicious downloads to some extent, though some do it better than others, as a report this year from NSS Labs showed.

Google has added the capability to Chrome Canary, an early pre-release version of the browser that is intended for developers and tech-savvy end users because it "can sometimes break down completely."

Google didn't immediately respond to a request for more details about the way this feature works. Since antivirus products often step over each other when run simultaneously on the same computer, it remains to be seen if this new Chrome functionality will trigger conflicts for people who use other security software.

Chrome already lets users reset their browser settings and alerts them when they're about to visit a site that the company has identified as dangerous.


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