Google kills off the Chrome Cleanup Tool for Windows

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With the release of Chrome 111, Google is waving goodbye to the Chrome Cleanup Tool that has been available for a number of years.

After 8 years of service, Google has decided the Chrome Cleanup Tool -- which, the company explains, helps users to "recover from unexpected settings changes, and to detect and remove unwanted software" -- is simply no longer needed.

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Starting with the release of the Windows version of Chrome 111 -- there was never a version of the utility for the macOS or Linux editions of the browser -- Google says that "users will no longer be able to request a Chrome Cleanup Tool scan through Safety Check or leverage the "Reset settings and cleanup" option offered in chrome://settings on Windows".

Explaining the reasons behind the decision to kill off the Chrome Cleanup Tool, Google says:

First, the user perspective -- Chrome user complaints about UwS have continued to fall over the years, averaging out to around 3 percent of total complaints in the past year. Commensurate with this, we have observed a steady decline in UwS findings on users' machines. For example, last month just 0.06% of Chrome Cleanup Tool scans run by users detected known UwS.

Next, several positive changes in the platform ecosystem have contributed to a more proactive safety stance than a reactive one. For example, Google Safe Browsing as well as antivirus software both block file-based UwS more effectively now, which was originally the goal of the Chrome Cleanup Tool. Where file-based UwS migrated over to extensions, our substantial investments in the Chrome Web Store review process have helped catch malicious extensions that violate the Chrome Web Store's policies.

Finally, we've observed changing trends in the malware space with techniques such as Cookie Theft on the rise -- as such, we've doubled down on defenses against such malware via a variety of improvements including hardened authentication workflows and advanced heuristics for blocking phishing and social engineering emails, malware landing pages, and downloads.

Google bids adieu to the utility saying: "While we'll miss the Chrome Cleanup Tool, we wanted to take this opportunity to acknowledge its role in combating UwS for the past 8 years. We'll continue to monitor user feedback and trends in the malware ecosystem, and when adversaries adapt their techniques again -- which they will -- we'll be at the ready".

Image credit: Ilya Sergeevych / Shutterstock

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