Downloads & Extensions Can Pose a Security Risk – Google Introduces New Features

Chrome’s new features will warn users about untrusted extensions & risky downloads

Tech News

Google Chrome, the most popular browser has introduced new features to safeguard the security and privacy of its millions of users. These new features are designed to identify malicious and potentially harmful downloads and extensions that may pose a threat. The new additions will be added under the existing Enhanced Safe Browsing module that was launched in 2020 and warned users against phishing websites.

When a user tries to add an extension to the Chrome browser, and if it is not from a trusted developer then Google will display a warning prompt informing the user. Trusted extensions are those that have been developed by programmers and coders who follow Google’s Developer Program Policies and do not violate the policies for a few months. But this means then all new developers will not be considered as trusted developers until a few months pass.

Extension
Image: Google

However, the ‘Proceed with Caution’ prompt can be easily bypassed by the user by clicking on the ‘Continue to Install’ button. Currently, Google claims that 75% of the extensions available on the Chrome web Store are trustworthy and pose no threat. And while the remaining 25% of the extensions need not be dangerous but could have been developed by newer developers who have not earned Google’s trust yet.

As far as the downloads are concerned, a new scanning feature will help detect potentially suspicious downloads and offer the users an option to upload them to Google’s Servers first for a thorough scan. The downloads will then be uploaded to Google Safe Browsing and analyzed further and Google will warn you if any threats lurking within. Like extensions, this feature can also be bypassed by the users but it is not recommended especially when you are downloading from a new website or unknown email. This would be considered as an extra layer of protection on the downloads as Chrome already performs metadata checks on all downloads.

Extensions in Chrome
Image: Google

This feature will gradually roll out to all users using the Chrome 91 version and will be activated only if the user has activated Enhanced Safe Browsing Feature in the Chrome browser. Earlier this feature was used to protect phishing sites only but now it will help identify malicious downloads and unsafe extensions. Google reports that users who have opted for Enhanced Safe Browsing have successfully phished 35% less than users who have not activated this feature.

It is always better to be late than never and if you want to turn on the Enhanced Safe Browsing options then follow the steps below:

For Google Chrome on PC:

  • Click on three dots on the top right corner and choose Settings.
  • In the Settings tab, click on Privacy & Security and then choose Security.
  • Select the Enhanced Protection option.

Settings

For Google Chrome on Android:

  • Click on three dots on the top right corner and choose Settings.
  • In the Settings tab, click on Privacy & Security and then choose Safe Browsing.
  • Select the Enhanced Protection option.

Google has constantly been introducing new features on Chrome browser keeping in mind the competition against other browsers. Last week it introduced the screenshot and edit/crop feature which avoids users having to use a third-party tool for adding text and drawing on the screenshot captured. But these updates are related to the security and privacy of the users which are very important and must be considered as top priority by all.

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