Google Chrome now scans for viruses

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Aina Prat

Google introduces a new feature in its browser Chrome: the virus scan of individual suspicious files. But it will not be new for everyone, on the contrary: it is only available for members of the Advanced Protection Program, a sort of club of people who, for their work or for personal reasons, have special online security needs.

As early as August 2019, Chrome has been warning users ofAdvanced Protection Program if a file they are about to download might contain malware, by quickly scanning the file's metadata and comparing it to an archive of dangerous files before starting the download. Now it does even more by offering the ability to send the single file for virus scanning. The scan takes place on Google's cloud servers, in real time, and at the end of the analysis the file is deleted. Therefore, Google does not keep a copy of the submitted files. All of this is already available, starting September 16, 2020.

What is the Advanced Protection Program

The virus scan is reserved for subscribers to theAdvanced Protection Program, a program reserved for those "most at risk of online targeted attacks", such as journalists, political organizations, activists, business executives and election campaign teams. To join the program you need to purchase two physical tokens that will be used as an authentication factor.

It is no coincidence, and Google makes it clear, that file scanning was introduced just before the US presidential elections in November: according to Google, members of political staff are at this moment particularly at risk of attack.

How Chrome's virus scan works

With the new functionality, subscribers to the advanced protection program keep getting a warning when they are about to download a suspicious file. Now, however, the warning also contains a button to submit the file to Google for full analysis.

This all works when a file is downloaded from a site, with email attachments, and whenever the user is about to download a file within Chrome.

Google Chrome now scans for viruses

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