Chrome 76 Will Protect Against At Least One More Abusive Ad Behavior

Chrome tabs AH 2019

Google is taking its fight against abusive advertising a step further and battening down API associated with pop-up ads that appear on certain types of interaction in Chrome 76, based on recently spotted adjustment made to the Chrome Platform Status update log. More directly, the update will bring an end to computers' escape key (ESC) being classified as a direct interaction.

That means that advertisements, pop-ups, and other abusive behaviors will no longer be triggered when the user presses ESC. Instead, Chrome will effectively listen for the ESC key to be pressed and then ignore any code meant to cause something to run as a result — as is shown happening in the associated demo attached to the changelog.

Why now?


Google cites the recent discovery of an 'attack vector' utilized by malicious and abusive ads via the interaction in question as to the reason for its decision to remove ESC as a directly interactive key. The key itself has never been used in that way either, according to the update notes, so there's no reason it should have ever been classified as such, to begin with. Its primary use is as a way to halt a web page from loading.

The move also happens to fall in line with an aggressive approach the company started to take late last year in a bid to ensure its users' safety online when using Chrome. The most prominent change, put in place as far back as Chrome 71, was Google's decision to begin targeting websites that contained what it called abusive ads and, insofar as it could, to remove all advertising from those pages entirely.

That change meant that websites needed to start paying closer attention to their advertising and actively prevent ads that meet those standards in order to continue generating ad income. Along those same lines, the company also began cracking down on other shady practices, particularly with pages that didn't clearly state the intention to charge money, essentially punishing sites for the behavior by alerting users to the deception.

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Yet another prominent change made by Google within the past several months was its crackdown on sites that abused users' reliance on the 'back icon' as a means to exit a site or page.

In effect, the company began exploring ways to prevent a site from manipulating the browser's history so that it could skip past maliciously added pages. That way, a user wouldn't tap or click the back button only to find themselves on another site they hadn't even previously been to or dealing with annoying and potentially dangerous pop-ups.

This will affect all of the Chrome


The incoming change intended to further the above-listed protections and others isn't going to arrive on a single platform either. The update log notes that it's slated not only for desktop iterations of Chrome on Windows, macOS, and most likely Chromebooks via Chrome OS. It's also going to land on Android in Chrome 76 at the same time.

Users can expect the same change in place via Android's WebView API, so the abuse won't be able to continue when a website loads up via Chrome within another app either.

Chrome 76 is currently expected to land on July 30, following the June 4 update from version 74 to version 75.