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Google's Advanced Protection Program now blocks malware in Chrome

The program expands beyond Gmail to protect people from viruses aimed at Chrome.

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Google's Advanced Protection Program was specifically for Gmail accounts. Now it'll help protect people when they're using Google Chrome.

Angela Lang/CNET

When Google unveiled its Advanced Protection Program in 2017, the tool was specifically meant to prevent hackers from taking over people's Gmail accounts. But there are more ways for hackers to attack people than hijacking an email inbox. On Tuesday, Google said it's expanding the program to help block out malware via Chrome

While the APP sought to prevent hacked Google accounts by adding higher access standards, like requiring a security key and limiting third-party access, it didn't specifically address internet malware, which hackers can still use to spy on and track their victims.

Google's protection program is offered to people in high risk situations, like campaign staffers, journalists, activists and people in abusive relationships. As a result of their circumstances, they're more likely to be hacked.

Because the APP already protected people from malware that was sent through Gmail, hackers have started targeting people outside of their inboxes, Google said in a statement. 

"Attackers are shifting their strategies to threaten Advanced Protection users outside of email with linked malware and 'drive-by downloads' where users unknowingly download harmful software onto their devices," the company said. 

To turn on the APP's new Chrome protections, users have to go to their Chrome browser and turn on Sync. If you have privacy concerns about the tech giant, you should know that this means every device you're using with Google Chrome logs your web and app activities. 

Once the protections are activated, Google Chrome will automatically block or warn about file downloads it considers risky. This protection standard is stronger than what Google offers normal Chrome users, the company said. Though Chrome's malware protection blocks known malware, the APP will block both known malware and unknown types of files. People enrolled in APP will be far more restricted when it comes to what kinds of files they can download. 

This protection applies only to the Chrome browser and doesn't affect malware in Android apps, but the company said it's always looking for ways to improve the APP.