The company first introduced its Advanced Protection Program (APP) three years ago in order to help secure the accounts of journalists, political organizations, activists and others users who are at higher risk of targeted online attacks.
APP users are already well protected from phishing attacks which is why cybercriminals are now trying to trick them to download malicious files instead. Back in August of last year, Google began warning APP users when they downloaded a file that could be malicious.
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According to a new blog post though, the company is expanding its program by giving users the ability to send risky files to be scanned by the full suite of malware detection technology in Google Safe Browsing before opening the file. While this helps protect users further, Google also expects that these cloud-hosted scans will significantly improve its own ability to detect malicious files.
Sending risky files to Google
When a user of Google's Advanced Protect Program downloads a file, Safe Browsing will first perform a quick check using metadata including hashes of the file to evaluate whether it appears to be suspicious.
For any downloads that Safe Browsing deems risky, but not clearly unsafe, users will be presented with a warning and the ability to send the file to be scanned.
If the user chooses to send the file to Google, Chrome will upload it to Google Safe Browsing which will then scan it using its static and dynamic analysis techniques in real time. After a short wait, Chrome will warn the user if Safe Browser determines the file is unsafe. Users can still bypass this warning and open a file without scanning it if they are confident the file is safe. For additional security, Safe Browsing deletes any files uploaded to it shortly after they're scanned.
For those looking for additional security for their online accounts, signing up for Google's Advanced Protection Program is free and only take a few minutes.
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After working with the TechRadar Pro team for the last several years, Anthony is now the security and networking editor at Tom’s Guide where he covers everything from data breaches and ransomware gangs to the best way to cover your whole home or business with Wi-Fi. When not writing, you can find him tinkering with PCs and game consoles, managing cables and upgrading his smart home.