How to tell if a browser update is genuine

Fake ‘update your web browser’ pages and pop-up windows can trick you into downloading malicious software on your PC or laptop. These fake pages often appear as a result of counterfeit or corrupted ads when you visit an otherwise legitimate website. A good practice is to install an ad-blocking add-on to your browser from the browsers’ official website, to avoid being served with ads like this in the future.

Internet browsers such as Google Chrome, Internet Explorer, Safari and Mozilla Firefox, often make security patches available; however, to be able to keep up with those, it’s important to keep your web browser up to date. You should only trust updates from legitimate sources such as:

  • An update notification from within your computer’s web browsing software
  • An update you have downloaded from the web browsers’ official website
  • An update notification from your PC or laptop’s operating system’s auto-update function.

If you get an update notification from a website that is not the legitimate Chrome, Mozilla, Safari or Explorer site, then it is very likely that it is coming from a fraudster. Here are some common tricks that malicious actors use to make the update look like it’s coming from a genuine source and how you can spot these:

  • Fraudsters often copy official branding and put it on a counterfeit site, making it appear like the original. But by checking the URL before downloading anything, you should be able to determine if the update is genuine
  • You might get a reminder from a counterfeit site that you need antivirus software. Even if you don’t have one already installed on your PC or laptop, do not fall for this. It’s better to go onto the antivirus software creator’s official website and download it from there as a precaution
  • Inconsistent, broken language is also a sign of a counterfeit site, so if you spot any spelling mistakes on the site be wary that it could be a scam
  • If, while browsing, you get interrupted and redirected to a page pretending to provide ‘important’, ‘urgent’ or ‘critical’ update, this is a scam tactic to trick you into installing malware.

An example of a fake browser update is one recently spotted by researchers, which used a fake Google Chrome update page that can download a hacked file and install a malware on your device. Once downloaded, the malware can either steal money from your accounts or let hackers hijack and control your device. We’ve previously written a blog on whether it’s safe to store your credit card information online, here.

Here are a few quick tips on how to prevent malware from installing on your device:

  • Do not click on the fake ads and notices – as mentioned above
  • Regularly run a malware scan on your computer
  • Avoid downloads from unreliable sources
  • Report web forgeries to the Google Web Forgery site
  • Keep your software updated at all times.

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