After last week expanding the Gmail Advanced Protection Program for high-risk G Suite users, Google is now bringing some anti-malware features of the program to Chrome.
While the Gmail Advanced Protection Program requires that users employ a hardware security key like Google’s Titan, the additional anti-malware protections for Chrome will require them to log in to Google’s browser account system, called Sync.
The company angered some Chrome users last year by rolling out an unannounced feature that automatically logged users in to Chrome’s account system if they were already logged into a Google service like Gmail.
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Being logged into Chrome sends web browsing history to Google’s servers, allowing it to sync web history, passwords and settings across multiple devices. Enabling sync also automatically signs users into all Google services they visit, including YouTube and Search.
The new Advanced Protection offering appears to give users the choice of trading some privacy for extra security.
Once logged in, Google says, “Chrome will automatically start receiving stronger protections against risky downloads across the web, like files containing malware.”
The company argues that because Advanced Protection offers higher protection to Gmail users, “attackers are shifting their strategies to threaten Advanced Protection users outside email with linked malware and ‘drive-by downloads’ where users unknowingly download harmful software onto their devices”.
Chrome already has a bunch of built-in anti-malware features, including Safe Browsing, an ESET-powered malware cleanup feature, and in March it added new protections to block file downloads from within sandboxed iframes, cutting off a key technique used to automatically install malware on computers from the web.
But Google says that “Advanced Protection users will get an even stronger level of protection” in Chrome.
The next time Chrome with sync enabled runs into a potentially nasty executable on the web, users may see a message in the bottom corner of the browser that a file was “blocked by Advanced Protection”.
The Advanced Protection Program for G Suite announced last week caters to G Suite admins who previously didn’t have control over who was enrolled in the program.
Admins can now nominate groups of specific high-risk users and require them to use a security key as well as create a whitelist of apps that are allowed to access their users’ Gmail data.
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