Google Chrome is a very easy browser for almost anybody to use, but Google is doubling down on efforts to protect and aid users with Chrome Cleanup, a new feature that promises to put an end to hijacked settings, unwanted toolbars, and other hijinks that may befall the inexperienced, or those who visit sites that tend toward using malicious advertising. Users can end up with their browsing experience changed from what they want and are used to, or even become unable to use the web because they’re unable to fight off the deluge of ads and other harm. The new feature set manifests in three ways, all of which are aimed at taking control of the browser away from malicious add-ons and other unwanted software, and putting it back in the hands of users.
The new feature set manifests in three main ways. The first is automatic detection of settings that have been changed without a user doing it themselves, often caused by malicious extensions. When Chrome detects a changed setting, it offers to revert the change for the user, giving the option for the user to keep settings changes from extensions that they’re aware of and want to keep. The second big change is a simple cleanup tool that shows users potentially unwanted software that may have come along for the ride during installation of another piece of software. Removing such software manually can be a hassle or require third-party tools, but this new Chrome feature does it automatically. Finally, Chrome Cleanup’s detection engine for unwanted software has been enhanced through collaboration with ESET, an IT security firm.
These changes are only available to Chrome users running Windows for the time being, with no announcement of when they could come to other platforms. It should be noted that Windows is by far the most vulnerable platform to run Chrome on, which means that these changes may not be entirely necessary on other platforms. In most Linux distributions, drive-by software installation is difficult, and most software installation must be done by the user through either the terminal, a software store, or a third-party program like dpkg or gdebi. On Mac OS, drive-by software installations are confounded by heavy system security. Naturally, the fact that most desktop malware is targeted toward Windows plays a part here. On Android, meanwhile, Google has tons of protections in place to help prevent just these sorts of problems.