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Google Targets Malvertising-Friendly Sites

Google is not a big fan of malicious software or adware that clogs up the Internet, and has been fairly ruthless in pursuing it over the last few years. Now, the company will take another big step toward providing users with tools to avoid the scummy underbelly of the Internet. In the next few weeks, Google's Safe Browsing initiative will add warnings to any site that can host malware, phishing, aggressive software or even ads that link to such things.

Moheeb Abu Rajab and Stephan Somogyi covered the topic in Google's Online Security Blog. Rajab and Somogyi explained that a warning screen with the words "The site ahead contains harmful programs" will become more prevalent than ever this summer thanks to improved detection algorithms.

"Attackers on [website] might attempt to trick you into installing programs that arm your browsing experience (for example, by changing your homepage or showing extra ads on the site you visit)," the warning reads. From there, users can return to safe websites, although presumably, there will be an option for more advanced users to continue at their own risk.

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Although Google's Chrome browser will implement this protection by default, Firefox and Safari users will also be protected, provided that they use Google as their default search engine. The protection protocols function across Windows, Mac OS X, Linux and Android. (iOS users are apparently not protected just yet, and will have to exercise some extra caution.)

In particular, Google highlights that its updated protocols will protect against ad injectors, which make ads pop up on otherwise safe sites, and ad networks that link to malware. Malvertising has become an increasingly common phenomenon over the last year, and many site networks contain ads that can link to unsafe software downloads.

Since the detection improvements are all on Google's end, everyday users do not need to do anything in particular to benefit from them. As always, though, it doesn't hurt to keep your browser software up to date and exercise caution when clicking on unproven links.

Marshall Honorof is a senior writer for Tom's Guide. Contact him at mhonorof@tomsguide.com. Follow him @marshallhonorof. Follow us @tomsguide, on Facebook and on Google+.