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Hackers find a scary new way to target new Windows 10 users

Microsoft Edge is a good browser. It is miles ahead of the Internet Explorer it replaced and Edge even does well when compared against modern browsers like Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox. For many users though, this won’t matter.  Years of familiarity with their browser of choice means they’re unlikely to change to a browser like Edge, which was quite late to the game. This means that whenever they buy a new PC or laptop, or update their operating system to Windows 10, the default Edge web browser has one task: to download Chrome. This is a problem.

The Bing search engine is showing up malicious and dangerous ads for search terms like “download chrome”

Windows 10 bug Microsoft Edge Google Chrome Download
Be careful if you’re going to use Microsoft Edge to download Google Chrome

The issue arises because we’ve all become accustomed to typing basic phrases into the address bar when we want something rather than typing in complete domain names. Hackers know that we’re like this and they set up traps accordingly. They can set up fake sites on authentic sounding domains like GoogleOnline2018.com and place legitimate sounding download files like ChromeSetup.exe. It all looks and feels fine until your PC falls victim to the malware these fake domains and files contain.

For more tips on avoiding phishing scams like this one check out our infographic below:

This exact scam is what almost tripped up Gabriel Landau. He bought a new laptop and opened up Microsoft Edge so that he could download Google Chrome. Fortunately, he stopped himself from downloading the fake ChromeSetup extension when he noticed that the digital signature was linked to Alpha Criteria Ltd. and not Google.

The real issue here is that this is a problem that Chrome and Firefox deal with automatically. The fake phishing sites, which show as normal on Edge, show warnings on both the Google and Mozilla browsers. Even worse for Microsoft is that this is not a new problem.

According to a How-to-Geek report, a similar issue on the Bing search engine was reported way back in April. Microsoft removed that ad, but the fact that an almost identical ad appeared over six months later means it hasn’t addressed the underlying issue. This lack of action is putting Bing users who are looking for Google Chrome at risk. Could it be spite?

In the same report, Microsoft responded to say, “Protecting customers from malicious content is a top priority, and we have removed the ads from Bing and banned the associated account. We encourage users to continue to report this type of content so we can take appropriate action.” This almost feels like an abdication of responsibility as it puts the emphasis on users to report false ads rather than on Microsoft itself to filter them out.

This is just one more issue in a long list of problems Microsoft faces at the moment. It is also likely to hit the credibility of Edge that, default search engine aside, is an otherwise capable web browser.

To protect yourself against this particular threat you are going to have to take action that Microsoft isn’t going to like. To download Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox, click either of the two download buttons below.

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If you do want to continue using Microsoft Edge, however, we recommend changing the default search engine from Bing immediately. Google is an obvious choice but there are plenty of other options out there.

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