Google Safe Browsing to start blocking sites with ads leading to unwanted software

Ad networks that don’t vet carefully what ads they serve will be the next “victims” of Google’s Safe Browsing service.

Since August 2014, Google has been on a sort of a crusade against unwanted software (or, as some AV vendors call them, potentially unwanted applications), as defined in this policy.

In short, unwanted software is mostly deceptive software that poses as a helpful download but ultimately makes changes to the users’ browser and its settings – changes that are helpful for the software’s creators, but not that much to users. In fact, they could ultimately harm the user.

Google has been making changes to its Safe Browsing web service, which serves to warn Chrome, but also Safari and Firefox users, about unsafe websites. The service uses a continually updated blacklist of unsafe sites, against which each requested site is checked before being loaded by the browsers.

Moheeb Abu Rajab and Stephan Somogy, from the Google Safe Browsing Team, have announced that in the coming weeks, the Safe Browsing service will start showing more warnings about unwanted software than usual.

“Unwanted software is being distributed on web sites via a variety of sources, including ad injectors as well as ad networks lacking strict quality guidelines. In many cases, Safe Browsing within your browser is your last line of defense,” they noted.

“If you want to help us improve the defenses for everyone using a browser that integrates Safe Browsing, please consider checking the box that appears on all of our warning pages,” they pointed out, and added that, as before, the service is only meant to protect people and their data from malware and phishing attacks and, in this case, malvertising attacks.




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