Google is working on bringing automatic malware blocking to the Chrome web browser. Canary, the developer version of Chrome, will currently flag block known malware automatically. This should make browsing more safe for users. Google, a recent blog post, said that “This has become a top issue in the Chrome help forums; we’re listening and are here to help.”
The current Canary build will notify users that it prevented malware from being downloaded. A message will pop up in the system tray at the bottom of your screen, letting you know that malware has been blocked. This new protection is in addition to the Safe Browsing capability that is already built in to Chrome. Safe Browsing helps to block up to 10,000 new websites per day, all based on a reputation score that Google assigns to sites.
The downloads that Google is trying to block with this malware scanning aren’t your traditional viruses that get picked up by an anti-virus program. They are smaller programs that may change browser settings or install ads that won’t go away. If you’ve ever had your homepage hijacked by a rogue ad, you have experienced the type of thing that Google is trying to prevent.
Writers of malware are always trying to find new ways to infiltrate your system. Anti-malware companies are playing a constant game of cat-and-mouse in an attempt to keep up the changes. It’s sometimes difficult to keep track of it all. Back in May, NSS Labs ran a test that compared the effectiveness of five of the leading web browsers against 754 pieces of live malware. In that test, Internet Explorer blocked 99.96 percent of the malware that it encountered and Chrome blocked 83.16 percent. Safari only blocked 10.15 percent, with Firefox blocking 9.9 percent and Opera only 2 percent of malware. That test is already outdated, however. The version of IE that NSS tested was IE10, which has been replaced by IE11. NSS tested Chrome versions 25 or 26, but Google has since updated Chrome to version 30. NSS was also critical of the reputation schemes that Chrome and IE use to block web sites:
“CAMP technology is by definition content agnostic and therefore more susceptible to false positives and user error. In order to offset the higher false positive rate of CAMP technologies the user is given a choice to block or allow content that is flagged as potentially untrustworthy, based upon reputational schemes. Good software that is not well known will be blocked. Malicious software that has been engineered to have excellent reputational aspects may evade protection. Depending on an untrained user to make the correct choice is unwise.”
Google is also adding a “reset browser” button to Chrome. It will allow users to basically do a factory reset on their web browser if it ever becomes infected with some type of malware. This provides an easy way for users to fix those browser-hijacking issues that may happen.