Google to Block and Ban Sites With Risky Downloads

John Lister's picture

Google has added a new measure to protect users from visiting risky websites. It's now going to warn users about bogus downloads, even before they go to the website concerned. The changes will affect Google Search, users of the Chrome browser, and advertisements provided by Google to third-party websites.

Safe Browsing Warnings Extended to Chrome

Google's Chrome browser will now contain special warning messages built into the web browser. The warnings are part of Google's Safe Browsing Service, which is also available as a third party API (application program interface). Parts of the Safe Browsing Service are also used in conjunction with Mozilla Firefox and Apple Safari web browsers.

A warning message from Google's Safe Browsing may appear for two reasons. The first is when the user is about to visit a webpage that's known or believed to house the most serious type of malware. Such malware is responsible for "drive-by" attacks, in which simply accessing a malicious web site is enough to trigger the malware being installed onto a computer. At one point, such warning messages appeared 60 million times a day. In 2015, the figure is closer to 20 million a day. (Source: google.com)

The second situation is when users are about to download any file that might harm their computer. In many cases such files have been misleadingly described, and users intentionally download them, but don't realize their true nature.

In both cases, users can go ahead and visit the website or start the download, but will have to explicitly click a disclaimer acknowledging they understand the risks.

Chrome Malware Warning Now Comes a Step Earlier

The change will mean Chrome will now put up a warning message when a user is about to visit a web page that is deemed safe, but contains links to downloads of risky files.

Google says its criteria for such files includes offering features it doesn't deliver, having features that aren't in the description, being misleadingly billed as another program, being difficult to remove once installed, and secretly collecting private data. (Source: slashgear.com)

The new changes to the Chrome browser come only one week after it was discovered that PC Manufacturer Lenovo shipped computers pre-bundled with the SuperFish malware. The malware uses a stealthy 'man-in-the-middle' attack which inserts custom advertisements on web pages, with the potential to spy on users.

Dubious Download Sites Down In Rankings

Any sites which are blocked by Google's Safe Browsing will also be heavily penalized in the Google search rankings, making it much less likely users will find potentially malicious sites via search results. Google will also ban links to these sites on any advertising it carries or supplies to other websites.

In many cases, websites are hacked and injected with risky downloads without the site owner knowing. Google runs a free service, Google Webmaster Tools, which alerts site owners if their sites are compromised and thus subject to the Chrome blocking and the search ranking penalty.

What's Your Opinion?

Is Google right to block users from visiting a site that houses risky downloads, even if the site itself is safe? Have you seen such warnings and do you take any notice? Does Google have the balance of security and usability right?

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Comments

winearls_4164's picture

Hi ,I think that provided the integrity of Google is not compromised as other such
software has been that this is excellent .I like the idea of being warned provided
there are no ulterior motives when my computer could be harmed in any way .
Thanks .

odiesdad83_3480's picture

This one of the most interesting words I have heard . It's about time some browser has taken the lead in these problems. . .KUDOS. . .

pmuise_3482's picture

Earlier in the month Tech Crunch among others posted information on Adware from the Google play store and it involved millions of downloads http://tinyurl.com/odwnydc.
Google has dealt with the issue but it strikes me as odd that Google has issues with keeping it's own house in order.

n7mpj's picture

My biggest beef is that they don't support adobe flash player anymore on tablets or mobile phones. It's because adobe always puts McAfee scanner on it and you have to make sure you have to uncheck it before installing the player.