As Internet users increasingly seek refuge in Google Chrome, online criminals are following in their footsteps and launching targeted attacks on the supposedly secure Web browser.
Hailed for its simplicity and security, Google Chrome has become a popular browser for users dissatisfied with Microsoft Internet Explorer's frequent problems, Ed Bott, researcher with tech website ZDNet, wrote.
Bott said it’s "usually a matter of minutes – sometimes even seconds," after writing a column on Internet Explorer that someone comments to tell him they’ve switched from IE to Google Chrome, believing they will now be "immune from malware attacks."
However, this shift to Chrome – and the belief that it makes its users untouchable – has not gone unnoticed by online criminals.
Bott cited a Virus Bulleting study , which said users of alternative browsers such as Chrome are four times more likely to be conned by social engineering scams — ones that target the users directly — than by visiting malicious websites embedded with corrupt code.
To carry out these attacks, Bott said criminals have created fake security warnings customized for Chrome, using the browser’s recognizable red background to appear legitimate. The fake warnings tell you that Chrome has detected a security problem and recommends you install new antivirus software.
Of course, that recommended software hides a dangerous rogue file designed to infect computers if downloaded.
Bott said he isn’t surprised to see Chrome emerge as a new target.
"Malware authors are beginning to adapt to changing habits of PC users," he wrote. "There’s nothing inherently safer about alternative browsers — or even alternative operating systems, for that matter — and as users adapt, so do the bad guys."
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