Google Chrome browser

Back in 2017, Google announced its Advanced Protection program, designed to safeguard the Google Accounts of those who are “most at risk.” Google is now looking to expand the Advanced Protection program from just protecting individuals’ Google Accounts to protecting their web browsing with Chrome.

Up to this point, all of the Advanced Protection program’s safeguards have been directly tied to securing the Google Account and its associated data. The prime examples of this being a requirement to use security keys to log into your account and the inability for third-party apps to access Gmail and Google Drive data.

Now, it seems, Google is looking to help users enrolled in Advanced Protection safeguard their devices and browsing practices, according to a new code change found in the Chromium Gerrit. According to the commit message, Advanced Protection users are going to be receiving safeguards against potentially malicious downloads.

This CL creates a set of strings for the download surfaces when the user is enrolled in the Advanced Protection program. As we roll out additional download protections for Advanced Protection users, this will be useful for explaining the extra warnings.

In another related code change, we learn that Google is using their Safe Browsing technology to determine which files are potentially malicious. Safe Browsing is already integrated into Chrome and is protecting all users, but it seems that Google’s Safe Browsing servers will give Advanced Protection users an even more strict level of protection.

If enabled, download protection will request Advanced Protection verdicts from Safe Browsing. These will provide stronger protections from files Safe Browsing is unsure about.

When this is set to true, we expect the server to provide heightened protection for Advanced Protection users.

Because these new download protections are going to be so stringent, Google has decided it best to remind users that they are enrolled in Advanced Protection and that they should expect to see potentially malicious download warnings more often than the average user.

As these safeguards are still being finalized, the earliest that Advanced Protection users should expect to see them is likely Chrome 76.

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About the Author

Kyle Bradshaw

Kyle is an author and researcher for 9to5Google, with special interests in Made by Google products, Fuchsia, and Stadia.

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