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Google Chrome to warn of malicious Windows executables

Social engineering put on notice

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Google says it's expanding its blacklist of malicious websites to include those that use deceptive claims to push harmful Windows programs.

The addition to Google's Safe Browsing API will warn people when they are about to visit websites that offer Windows-based trojans that are disguised as screen savers or other innocuous applications. The search behemoth introduced the service five years ago to alert users when they try to browse sites that perform drive-by downloads that exploit security vulnerabilities in the operating system or browsing software.

The underlying programming interface is already being used by browsers including Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, and Apple Safari. It's also available to any webmaster who wants to use the wealth of information available from Google to prevent malicious links from being posted to their sites.

“Safe Browsing has done a lot of good for the web, yet the internet remains rife with deceptive and harmful content,” Moheeb Abu Rajab, a member of Google's security team, blogged on Tuesday. “It's easy to find sites hosting free downloads that promise one thing but actually behave quite differently.”

Keyloggers, botnet software and adware are just three examples.

The new feature will initially be available only for Chrome users who subscribe to the browser's development release channel. The company plans to integrate it into the next stable release of Chrome. There is no mention of it being made available to browser providers outside of Google.

The warning will be displayed whenever users encounter a download from a URL that matches the latest list of malicious websites published by the Google API. ®

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