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Google Broadens Scope of Unwanted Software Warnings

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Google yesterday announced that it would expand its browser security efforts with a new warning in Chrome about unwanted software to caution users about accessing sites that are known to encourage unsafe downloads.

The Mountain View, Calif., search and browsing giant has invested serious resources into its safe browsing features over the past several years. The company revamped its malware and bad SSL certificate warnings last year following a pair of studies seeking to determine how browser-based warnings could effectively stop users from clicking through to potentially dangerous content.

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To this point, a user would trigger Google’s unwanted software warning in Chrome just as he attempted to download sketchy content. Now the warnings kick in as the user attempts to browser directly to a site or in Google search results leading to the site.

“If you’re a site owner, we recommend that you register your site with Google Webmaster Tools,” wrote Google software engineer, Lucas Ballard. “This will help you stay informed when we find something on your site that leads people to download unwanted software, and will provide you with helpful tips to resolve such issues.”

Early last year, Google ruffled some feathers by announcing it would block malicious file downloads by default in its Chrome browser. While some expressed concern about Google acting as a gatekeeper for acceptable content, the company ultimately went forward with the move. Yesterday’s announcement takes Google’s year-old decision one step further, allowing the company to encourage users not to visit certain sites as opposed to encouraging them not to download certain files.

Later in 2014, the company expanded its definition of unwanted software to include programs that purport to be something they are not or make unwanted changes to the user’s browser.

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