Google Users Discover Chrome’s Built-In Anti-Virus Tool Is Scanning Private Files On Their Computers Without Telling Them

Google users are sharing their shock at discovering Chrome’s built-in anti-virus tool is scanning private files on their computers. Chrome Cleanup Tool, a browser component added in 2014 to scan and remove malicious or resource heavy software, is behind the outcry. It was originally an optional add on for Chrome, letting users get rid of malware and bloatware they may have unintentionally installed. In October 2017, the Mountain View firm re-branded it and made it a compulsory part of the Chrome installation – without users’ knowledge. The discovery was made by Kelly Shortridge, a cybersecurity expert at New York based startup SecurityScorecard. Shortridge noticed that the tool was scanning files in a documents folder on her Windows PC and was concerned that it may be collecting data. She shared her findings on Twitter, where she said: “I was wondering why my Canarytoken (a file folder) was triggering and discovered the culprit was Chrome. Turns out Google Chrome quietly began performing AV scans on Windows devices last fall.” Chrome’s head of security Justin Schuh responded to her directly on social media, writing on Twitter: “The Chrome Cleanup Tool (CCT) is not a general purpose anti-virus. CCT’s sole purpose is to detect and remove unwanted software manipulating Chrome. Potential data collection and associated consents are described in the Chrome Privacy Whitepaper, and every cleanup action requires an explicit user approval. The team is investigating more opt-outs, but that balances against the potential for abuse.”

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Posted in All Stories, Annoucer Blogs, Gary Gamble Tagged with: , , ,

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