Why Google fighting malware through Chrome is important

When it comes to an infected computer, there is not much a person can do except to try and clean it up. However, if there are tools that help you do that, it makes your duty much easier. Let’s face it: ad revenue is important to all web publishers. It’s important to us as well.

Before I move any further, I have a small thing to say. Even though we at Pixel Spot aren’t the biggest revenue generators, we have never ever used any advertising network apart from Google AdSense. If you are aware of it, there are a lot of other alternatives, but AdSense is the least intrusive one. If you would like to support us, please do unblock-us in your AdBlocker. If you don’t, we respect your choice.

The State of Advertising

Unfortunately, advertising as a revenue source also brings to us the plethora of bad advertising publishers that use unfair means to gain an advantage in a competitive world. Forget the smaller publishers, as they are still sane. Here is what large publishers like the NYTimes do:

2.8 megabytes of the page is purely JavaScript. After you allow the ads to finish loading, several minutes after the initial page load, the site is 23 megabytes. It requests over 2000 elements and it sets cookies for 20 different domains.

If you think this is bad, you are in for a rude shock.

http://шһатѕарр.com/?colors

I have not hyperlinked this website for your own security, but you can have a look at the screenshot of this website here: https://archive.is/9gK5Y

This is just one of the millions of websites on the open web that promote adware. There is not much we can do about it, but once the user downloads the extension, issues start cropping up. It will hijack the new tab page and will start showing pop-up ads on it.

Google: On the case

Slowly but steadily, I have been watching Google tackling this issue. At first, malicious extensions were simply sideloading themselves onto Chrome. Ironically, this is done by a lot of antivirus software as well, under the guise of protection. Eventually, it became difficult to do that.

For regular Windows users who are not skilled with computers, it is practically not possible to install and use extensions from outside the Chrome Web Store. Windows users can also load an unpacked extension, but they will always see an information bubble with “Disable developer mode extensions” when they start Chrome or open a new incognito window, which is annoying enough to make them disable the culprits.

Fighting malware is not that easy though

As is tradition, malware has, over the years, grown to be resilient and sneaky. When one backdoor is patched, another always creeps in. There is always some loophole that is still open to exploitation.

None of your favorite mediums are safe. Multi-platform malware and adware spreading via Facebook Messenger are also hardly unsurprising anymore.

The Messenger JS code

According to researchers at Kaspersky Labs, compromised Facebook accounts or “clickjackers” are used to send mass messages to users on the social platform, which in turn causes a domino effect and spreads the adware even further.

The Solution?

It is certainly not new news that the Chrome team has been testing a native advertisement blocking solution on its browser platform for a while now. However, Google has also announced that it will be partnering with ESET to bring what it calls “Chrome Cleanup:” an anti-adware protection to its Chrome browser.

The browser will continue to prompt the user till the threat is neutralized. This will be of enormous help to people are less tech savvy.

Chrome will also tell you if homepage has been hijacked and it will recommend you to restore it to a default one.

My take

Over a large time, I have been regularly asked by people to provide support on machines where adware has made its way. Seeing that a large section of my sample size of people is less aware of security, it makes a certain sense that Google knows via stats that something is going wrong somewhere. These protection measures only mean more good for the end-user, and sysadmins still have granular control over these features. This means that both sides of the spectrum should definitely be happy.

Source: Google, Eset, StackOverflow, SecureList