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Google can now scan malicious files for Advanced Protection users

Google can now scan malicious files for Advanced Protection users


A step further than just flagging or blocking downloads

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The Google Chrome logo in the center of a web-like graphic.
Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

Google’s Advanced Protection program aims to protect high-profile people who are especially at risk of being targeted by online attacks with extra security features in Chrome, and it’s adding a new feature today. Those enrolled will be able to send files that Advanced Protection suspects are malicious to be scanned in full by Google’s Safe Browsing malware-detection technology.

Previously, the Advanced Protection features went as far as flagging or blocking a download that was deemed to be a concern. Now, Google says that if a downloaded file seems suspicious, a new option will be available for enrolled users to send it for an in-depth scan.

Once the user gives the approval, Chrome will upload it, and the full scan by Safe Browsing “will perform a quick check using metadata, such as hashes of the file, to evaluate whether it appears potentially suspicious,” after which the file is deleted from its servers, Google claims. Regardless of the verdict on the safety of the file, users can continue to download and open the file as they wish.

This feature builds upon other safeguards in place to protect Google accounts for public features, like activists, journalists, politicians, and more. The program requires two physical security keys to use, with one acting as a backup. And if an Advanced Protection user loses access to their account, Google has additional steps in place to verify their identity so it doesn’t fall into the wrong hands.