Google to get rid of those annoying fake download buttons

5 Feb 2016

We’re all sick of those fake links that pretend to be a download button for a file but turn out to be a scam, and now Google is taking action to get rid of them.

Fake download buttons have been around for some time now in various guises, but it seems lately that every site where you’re looking to download something that isn’t one of the most well-known ones has one of these annoying, and potentially dangerous, links.

While in many cases the click will just lead to some incredibly annoying piece of advertising that promises bogus health cures and infinite money, some could potentially contain virulent malware that will completely ruin your computer.

In a blog post, Google’s engineers completely agree that they’re a menace and must be stopped, on its Chrome browser, at least.

It plans to do this by adjusting its Safe Browsing feature on the browser to alert the user to embedded ads, referred to as social engineering ads.

Offending sites to get flagged

This, Google says, encompasses sites that are pretending to act or feel life a trusted entity such as one that looks like an operating system’s notifications, or ones that try to trick you into sharing a password or calling ‘tech support’.

The same goes for prompts that tell you your software is out of date, such as one that mimics dialogue from a FLV software developer, even though we all know it’s a complete lie.

So while users are made aware of dodgy links, what about the site hosting it? Well, Google says that repeat offenders will be flagged to the point that trying to enter the website will see it blocked, with a red screen warning someone about the site’s lack of safety.

The person can still enter the site, but it will be completely at their own risk.

Of course, another means of protection that web users should follow is to hover the mouse arrow over the link and check in the bottom left-hand corner of the screen for the real URL it will send you to.

Download button image via Shutterstock

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic