Beware of Chrome’s malware download checker

For a long time, Chrome has had the ability to warn you if you try to go to a website that is known to contain viruses, spyware and other types of malware. If you click a link on a web page or type in a URL, a special page is displayed warning you that it’s a bad idea to go there. Google has now extended this capability to downloads and if you click a link to download a file and it is a virus, spyware or other malicious file it will be disabled and the download will be inaccessible.

This sounds like a great feature for protecting people from bad software on the internet and Google says that it is seeing about three million download warnings per week. The question is, are they all malicious downloads or could the warnings be wrong?

I recently experienced this and I clicked a download link and before the download was completed, a warning appeared in the bottom left corner of the Chrome browser window.

Chrome malware download

Chrome reported that this file was malicious. Was it though? Actually IS15 is Panda Internet Security 2015 and was being downloaded direct from the Panda website (http://www.pandasecurity.com/). Chrome had blocked it as malicious! Enter chrome://downloads into the address box to view your recent downloads. There is IS15.exe at the top with the warning.

Chrome malware detector

So how does Chrome actually block malicious downloads? Look in the Downloads folder on the disk drive and the malware is displayed as Unconfirmed 336832.crdownload. This is normal for a download that is in progress and once it is complete, the file is renamed to its true filename. For suspected malicious downloads this does not happen. Files with the .crdownload will not execute, so the malware is unable to run.

Detect viruses with Chrome

Since I knew what the file was and where it came from, a company specialising in anti virus software, I suspected that Chrome was mistaken about this file for some reason. There is a link underneath the file on the Downloads tab to Recover malicious file. Click it and you are asked to confirm that you want to continue by clicking the Hurt me plenty button.

Chrome downloads may be malware

If you ever get a malware warning like this and suspect that Chrome has made a mistake, you should always scan the file with an anti virus program to make sure that it is OK. In fact, you should never run software downloaded from the internet without at least free anti virus software installed at the bare minimum.

A scan of the file produced a clean report, confirming that the download was OK.

There are a couple of points to bear in mind with Chrome’s download checker:

1. It can catch malicious software, so take note of the warnings.

2. It can occasionally be wrong, however, you should proceed with caution.

Most of the time Chrome will be right and the download will be malware. If you want to play safe, you should delete the download. If you have good anti virus software installed and you suspect that the file is actually OK, you can proceed with the download, but take care.


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