Google Chrome will flag deceptive download buttons in ads as a security threat

Google is taking another aggressive step towards correcting deceptive practices on the web.

The company recently announced Chrome will throw up a warning page if it detects a user heading to a webpage with deceptive download buttons attached to an ad. The new warning is in line with the company’s social engineering policy announced in November, Google said in a blog post.


An example of a deceptive download button contained in an ad.

Deceptive downloads are easy to come by if you’re looking for free software online. Often, these buttons blend right in with the website. If you aren’t careful it’s hard to tell whether a button that says Download is for the program you want or part of an ad. (Ironically, Google Adwords-served ads sometimes use deceptive “Download now!” icons and verbiage.)

To help you avoid these types of interfaces, Google will soon throw up a big red warning screen in Chrome to prevent you from being fooled by a deceptive site. You’ll still be able to click through to the site if you want, but that option is buried and most users will opt to avoid the site entirely.

Why this matters: It’s not clear what kind of an impact this will have on sites using this kind of practice, but penalizing in Chrome for deceptive download buttons is a good first step. For years, website have been able to get away with all kinds of questionable habits, but Google is finally waging war against this with its power in the search and browser markets. Last February, Google announced a policy to warn against unwanted software such as programs that piggyback on another installation or programs that automatically changes your browser’s homepage.

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