Google has announced it will add a new malware protection tool to the upcoming release of Chrome 12. The new feature will warn users whenever they download a Windows executable file that’s a known malware offender.
Malware protection is already available to users of the Chrome dev channel, and Google hopes to roll it into Chrome 12 before Chrome 12 reaches the stable release channel.
While the initial focus is malicious Windows programs — think those clever, social engineering scams that claim you need to install a plugin or codec to view some content — Google plans to expand Chrome’s malware-sniffing capabilities over time.
Google’s Safe Browsing API is the backbone of the malware protection in Chrome, Firefox and Safari. The browsers check URLs against the Safe Browsing API to see if the URL you’re trying to visit is known to be a bad apple.
Google is taking that list a step further and applying it to individual files for the new malware protection. Internet Explorer 9 already offers similar malware protection based on Microsoft’s SmartScreen URL verification, which debuted in IE 8.
If you’re using the Chrome dev channel on Windows the new malware protection is already enabled. If you prefer a more stable release for your day-to-day web browsing you’ll have to wait a few weeks until Chrome 12 officially arrives.