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article imageGoogle targets annoying browser toolbars with new web protection

By James Walker     Mar 12, 2015 in Technology
Google has enhanced its search protection algorithms to provide more protection against websites harbouring unwanted software designed to hijack a user's computer with unwanted browser settings or intrusive adverts on webpages.
Google says it discovers more than 50,000 malware-infected sites and more than 90,000 phishing sites each month. The company's safe browsing protection system aims to help users defend themselves from these threats, displaying a prominent red warning alert when a user stumbles across an unsafe site.
Previously only available in the company's own Google Chrome web browser, the security information has now been fed into a broader application that is also compatible with the Mozilla Firefox and Apple Safari browsers. Microsoft's Internet Explorer is not supported although a similar software, SmartScreen Filter, is built into IE.
Now Google's offering has been updated with new technology that enables it to detect nuisance software products secretly downloaded by websites onto visitors' computers. Usually designed to change the homepage or search bar in web browsers, users will be warned if a site attempts to do this.
The functionality adds to existing warnings for sites infected with malware, viruses, malicious code or phishing scams designed to persuade people to hand over passwords or credit card information. Over 5 million red warnings are shown to Internet users each day.
Google's announcement comes on the 26th birthday of the Internet. In those years, the web has developed from a few tiny connections designed to share university resources into a vast network of interconnected servers across the world. Its inevitable that with so many users some will have bad intentions although Google recognise that increasing numbers of innocent sites are "indirectly" infecting visitors after having been compromised by hackers to include malicious code.
Stephan Somogyi, Google's Safe Browsing product manager said in an interview: "The folks trying to make a buck off people are having to come up with new stuff and that puts us in a position where we have to innovate to keep pace with these guys. You are now going to see a crescendo in our enforcement on sites that meet our standard of having unwanted software."
The new technology should help protect unsuspecting internet users from infecting their machines with some of the rubbish that can be picked up on the Internet. With Google taking an active stance against "unwanted software," the doors are beginning to open to a cleaner, safer Internet in the near future.
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