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April 12, 2016

No More Deceptive Download Buttons

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In November, Google announced that Safe Browsing would protect you from social engineering attacks – deceptive tactics that try to trick you into doing something dangerous, like installing unwanted software or revealing your personal information (for example, passwords, phone numbers, or credit cards). You may have encountered social engineering in a deceptive download button, or an image ad that falsely claims your system is out of date. Today, they’re expanding Safe Browsing protection to protect you from such deceptive embedded content, like social engineering ads.

Consistent with the social engineering policy that they announced in November, embedded content (like ads) on a web page will be considered social engineering when they either:

  • Pretend to act, or look and feel, like a trusted entity — like your own device or browser, or the website itself.
  • Try to trick you into doing something you’d only do for a trusted entity — like sharing a password or calling tech support.

Below are some examples of deceptive content, shown via ads:

This image claims that your software is out-of-date to trick you into clicking “update”.

This image mimics a dialogue from the FLV software developer — but it does not actually originate from this developer.

These buttons seem like they will produce content that relate to the site (like a TV show or sports video stream) by mimicking the site’s look and feel. They are often not distinguishable from the rest of the page.


The fight against unwanted software and social engineering is still just beginning. Google is planing to continue to improve Google’s Safe Browsing protection to help more people stay safe online.


If visitors to your web site consistently see social engineering content, Google Safe Browsing may warn users when they visit the site. If your site is flagged for containing social engineering content, you should troubleshoot with Search Console. Check out our social engineering help for webmasters.
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