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Chrome Now Warns Users Before They Visit Harmful Sites

Google software engineer Lucas Ballard updated the company's Online Security Blog with news that the Chrome web browser, Google Search and Google Ads now provide even more protection against malicious sites and unwanted software.

News of the beefed-up Safe Browsing service arrives after Google rolled out a feature in October 2013 that warns users about a potential threat when clicking on a download link. When users click on the link within the Chrome browser, a warning pops up saying that the file may "harm your browsing experience," and the download is blocked unless the user clicks the "Dismiss" button.

The company also rolled out a "reset browser settings" button, which allows users to return Chrome to its default settings with the click of a button. To access the button, Chrome users simply need to hit the Settings icon in the top-right corner, select "Settings" and expand "Show Advanced Settings" to reveal "Reset Settings." Users can then click on the "Reset Settings" button.

According to Ballard, the Chrome browser will now show a new red warning when the user clicks on a link that's listed in the Safe Browsing blacklist. "Attackers on (website) might attempt to trick you into installing programs that harm your browsing experience," the warning states. Examples include programs that change the homepage, showing additional ads on visited websites and so on.

As for Google Search, this service now "incorporates signals that identify such deceptive sites," meaning users will likely not see the blacklisted sites in search results. Google has also disabled ads that lead to sites hosting unwanted software.

"If you're a site owner, we recommend that you register your site with Google Webmaster Tools," Ballard said. "This will help you stay informed when we find something on your site that leads people to download unwanted software, and will provide you with helpful tips to resolve such issues."

Google's Safe Browsing website revealed that around one billion people use the service, and "tens of millions" see warnings each week whether it's in Google's Chrome, Apple's Safari or Mozilla's Firefox browsers. Even more, each day Safe Browsing scans "billions" of websites and uncovers ten thousand malicious sites serving up unwanted downloads. Many of these websites are legitimate but have been infiltrated by hackers.

Google began warning about malicious downloads back in April 2011.

"We're constantly working to keep people safe across the web," Ballard said.

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