Hacking News Google Chrome to Unload Heavy Ads With Intensive Resource Usage

Published on August 14th, 2019 📆 | 4204 Views ⚑

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Google Chrome to Unload Heavy Ads With Intensive Resource Usage

Google Chrome to Unload Heavy Ads With Intensive Resource Usage

Google is currently working on adding a new feature to the Chrome web browser designed to automatically unload ads which use an outrageous amount of system resources in an effort to shrink the browser’s CPU and network footprint.

The new feature currently “unloads ads that are in the .1% of bandwidth usage, .1% of CPU usage per minute, and .1% of overall CPU time.”

At the moment. “The current numbers are 4MB network and 60 seconds CPU, but may be changed as more data is available,” as explained in the Chromium Gerrit commit detailing the new change and marked as “Work in Progress” which means that the “change isn’t ready to be reviewed or submitted.”

Google’s John Delaney the developer behind this new feature dubbed it “Heavy Ad Intervention” and he says that the interstitial UX from Google’s Safe Browsing blacklist service to load an error message instead of the offending ad.

At the moment the messages that get displayed in place of the unloaded heavy ads are “Ad removed” and “This ad uses too many resources for your device, so Chrome removed it”, with 9to5google who discovered the Chromium commit also getting their hands on a couple of preview screenshots.

Heavy Ad Intervention error messages
Heavy Ad Intervention error messages (9to5google)

Google working on making ads friendlier

This change is part of a larger move designed to allow Google Chrome to make website ads a lot more friendly, seeing that the browser is blocking a whole range of abusive or misleading advertisements since the release of version 71.

Among the abusive ads included in Chrome’s blacklist are ones that promote malware, have hidden click areas, feature fake mouse pointers, use non-interactive redirects, contain fake messages and alerts, are used in phishing campaigns, and generally misleading behavior.

While in December 2018 when Chrome 71 was released the abusive ads were only blocked in North America and Europe, in January 2019 Google announced that they will be expanding this ad filtering scheme to the rest of the world starting with July 9, 2019.

To filter the ads, Chrome follows the Better Ads Standards to discover if a site is displaying abusive ad experiences which also prompted the decision to expand the abusive ad filtering on a worldwide basis seeing that the Coalition for Better Ads announced it on its end.

Additionally, Google also announced yesterday that AdSense is now sending alerts to website owners regarding the upcoming changes to Chrome’s ad blocking capabilities so that they can check if their pages are in compliance with the Better Ads Standards.

Also making ads more secure

In January, Chromium devs started working on adding support for automatically blocking of drive-by downloads originating from website iframes, which is one of the techniques used by attackers to drop malware payloads on vulnerable machines, with or without user interaction.

That was followed by a public design document from March that disclosed Google’s plans to add automated barring of all downloads initiated from within ad frames which lack user activation.

All in all, the implementation of automatic drive-by downloads blocking in Chrome originating from iframes or ads “is a security win, since downloads are a vector to vulnerabilities in lots of cases. And this doesn’t introduce new security vulnerabilities, as we simply block the code path to download in some conditions.”

Until the feature will be rolled out to Chrome web browser users, those who want to protect themselves from malvertising attacks can do it by restricting all JavaScript and embedded active content from running and, more importantly, by avoiding untrusted sites, and by filtering the websites they visit on a daily basis.

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