Google improves malware protection for users most likely to be attacked

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Google (opens in new tab) has announced changes to its Advanced Protection Program (APP) that will help better protect the most at-risk users from malware-based cyberattacks.

The free service, built for high-profile and frequently targeted account holders (e.g. politicians, executives etc.), will now allow users to effectively quarantine a download that is deemed suspicious.

Google Chrome (opens in new tab) will serve up real-time malware (opens in new tab) alerts that give users the opportunity to send files to APP for further analysis, which will determine whether it is safe to proceed with the download.

The new feature is available immediately for all members of the program using Chrome and will be activated in account settings by default.

Google Advanced Protection Program

Launched in 2017, Google APP has long offered its users increased protection against cyberattacks - in particular, phishing (opens in new tab) - and is updated on a regular basis to reflect the ever-mutating threat landscape.

“Online threats are constantly changing, and it’s important that users’ security protections evolve as well,” reads a Google Security blog post (opens in new tab).

“With the US election fast approaching, for example, Advanced Protection could be useful to members of political campaigns whose accounts are now more likely to be targeted.”

Last year, Google Chrome began to warn members of the program about suspicious downloads, but the company believes the ability to perform further analysis on potential threats will offer an all-important extra layer of protection.

“When a user downloads a file, Safe Browsing will perform a quick check using metadata, such as hashes of the file, to evaluate whether it appears potentially suspicious,” explained the firm.

“For any downloads that Safe Browsing deems a risk, but not clearly unsafe, the user will be presented with a warning and the ability to send the file to be scanned.”

Google account holders that consider themselves at high risk of attack can opt into the program here (opens in new tab).

Joel Khalili
News and Features Editor

Joel Khalili is the News and Features Editor at TechRadar Pro, covering cybersecurity, data privacy, cloud, AI, blockchain, internet infrastructure, 5G, data storage and computing. He's responsible for curating our news content, as well as commissioning and producing features on the technologies that are transforming the way the world does business.