Google adding malware warning system to Chrome

Google has announced a new security feature for its Chrome Web browser aimed at preventing users from unwittingly downloading malicious files from the Internet. Now, if a Chrome users encounters a piece of potential malware they’ll receive a warning: “This file appears to be malicious. Are you sure you want to continue?”

The new service is aimed at those sites that use deception, or “social engineering” as Google calls it, to get victims to download a file that may seem innocuous, but in actuality may be harmful — think of those times a site has tried to get you to install a codec or a plug-in in order to access content. Once downloaded to a victim’s computer, Malware may perform a wide range of activity, ranging from displaying spam ads to stealing passwords.

The warning will appear when the user attempts to access any URL that is contained in the updated list of malware websites published by Google’s Safe Browsing API. Google says it won’t be tracking what sites Chrome users are visiting as part of the new warning system.

Google’s Safe Browsing API has been used by various Web browsers for years to determine if websites may contain harmful content. Now, Google is specifically targeting download URLs themselves, not just the sites that house them. The Safe Browsing API is used by Google’s own Chrome browser but is also employed by Apple’s Safari and Mozilla’s Firefox. It’s not clear if other browsers will develop their own malware warning system similar to what Google is developing.

The warning system is currently being tested among users who “subscribe to the Chrome development release channel” and will be made widely available as part of the next stable release of Chrome.

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