Google cracks down on malware with a new extensions policy

google has updated its chrome extensions policy to combat malware chome web store
Denys Prykhodov/Shutterstock

It’s official: Google intends to boost its efforts to fight off malware, and it will do so through its Web browser, Chrome.

The search engine giant announced on May 13 that it will now require Windows-based extensions to be installed from its Web store, according to a post on the official Chrome blog. And Mac product users will not be immune to Google’s changes, either. The company noted that it will force Mac operators to only download from its Web store in the coming months.

“The extension platform unlocks powerful features that can help users get the most out of Chrome,” wrote Jake Leichtling, Extensions platform product manager at Google, in the blog post. “However, it is crucial that our users stay safe from the reaches of malicious software developers.”

Google’s goal isn’t to annoy its browser users, but rather prevent them from unknowingly downloading malicious files. On the bright side, the company noted that it will continue to allow inline installations, according to Ars Technica. Inline installations involve third-party sites that link to an extension hosted by Google.

In his post, Leichtling mentioned a policy that was rolled out in 2014, which prevented Windows users from downloading Chrome extensions outside of the Chrome Web Store. As a result of that change, the company saw a 75 percent drop in user support requests relating to extensions. Following these positive results, Google made its official decision to apply the policy to all Windows and iOS users.

“Extending this protection is one more step to ensure that users of Chrome can enjoy all the web has to offer without the need to worry as they browse,” Leichtling continued.

In April 2015, Google announced the release of Chrome 42 into the stable channel. Notably, the new version had 45 security fixes, many of which were resolved with assistance from external researchers. This edition also revealed a move away from traditional plugins, such as Java and Silverlight.