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Google adds support for Unwanted Software Detection to Safebrowsing

Google adds support for Unwanted Software Detection to Safebrowsing

by AshwinDecember 9, 2015

Google is no stranger to battling online threats and protecting users, it first began the process about 8 years ago.

Google Chrome UwS Detection Safe browsing
Yes, it was in 2007, that the Mountain View company introduced Safe Browsing.

This security protocol in Google Chrome, protects users from malicious websites and any malware they may contain.

Google is constantly updating the way Safe Browsing works, to make sure it detects new techniques used by phishing scammers and bad websites.

One of the evil things that this protocol protects users is from is Unwanted Software, which Google terms UwS, and pronounces it as ooze (ridiculous, but that’s what it calls it). These are actually similar to PUPs (Potentially Unwanted Programs), in that they pretend to be from a legit source, but are infact some form of malware or adware.

We already reported earlier this year, how Google steeped up the fight against malvertising campaigns (malicious advertising). This is kind of similar to it. The most common form of UwS is through ad injectors. Attackers tend to target popular websites, which are generally safe, and inject malicious scripts into the legitimate ads that the website serves.

To the unaware user, it wpuld appear as if it is the website which is displaying the ad, and very often the user belives it to be safe. These ads, are often linked to malicious apps, which are executed when the user clicks upon them, like say for example disguised as a fake Chrome extension.

And it is not just news websites and the like which tend to suffer, even the ads found in Google Search results are injected with malicious ads.

Other examples of UwS include bundled software in installation packages of software, malware disguised behind play button in a webpage. Sometimes scammers use fake apps disguised as legitimate ones, to trick the user into believing they are installing a safe app, but you know what happens later.

It is for these reasons that Google is adding support for UwS detection in Safebrowsing. The above screenshot shows an example message, which will be displayed when the user visits a malicious webpage which contains a UwS.

Google has announced that the complaints against UwS have fallen considerably in the last one year. It says it only receives half as many as it used to (20% of all complaints), as opposed to 40% from last year, and that it has helped over 14 million users to remove 190+ fake Chrome extensions from their computers.