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When I go to https://www.google.com/chrome/, I get redirected to sign in and then forwarded to some app engine link as can be seen in the continue parameter of the following URL:

https[:]//accounts[.]google[.]com/ServiceLogin/webreauth?service=ah&passive=true&continue=https%3A%2F%2Fuc.appengine[.]google[.]com%2F_ah%2Fconflogin%3Fcontinue%3Dhttps%3A%2F%2Fchr-183746449-dot-googwebreview[.]appspot[.]com%2Fchrome%2Fbrowser-tools%2F%253Fxpv%253D1&flowName=GlifWebSignIn&flowEntry=ServiceLogin.

(Please don't click the link unless you know what you are doing, as it is potentially suspicious.)

I tried to sign in with a test account to see where it goes, and eventually ends up at the following link:

https[:]//chr-183746449-dot-googwebreview[.]appspot[.]com/chrome/browser-features/?xpv=2

(Please don't click the link unless you know what you are doing, as it is potentially suspicious.)

I recommend no one click on the suspicious links, but I am just trying to see if anyone has encountered this issue and / or knows why it happens. (I have removed the hyperlinks so no-one accidentally clicks them.)

I examined it on VirusTotal as well but could not find much more info and it doesn't trigger any engines:

https://www.virustotal.com/gui/url/7b7d19079d611b1c17c05968ba3fd0b1c3c79b9ed83c19657ef9450fe615c577/detection

Clearing my cache on my machine corrects the problem and I am able to get to the correct page when going to https://www.google.com/chrome/. However, I tested some time later and it seemed to happen again. Since it is only happening on this machine on my network and not others I am wondering if the cache on it is somehow getting poisoned, and if so how. It is an M1 Mac mini if it is of any relevance.

I also reset the wifi-gateway and password but was able to reproduce it on that same machine after sometime. This was also after I had completely re-formatted the hard drive and had done a complete re-install of the OS from the recovery partition. The problem seems to reoccur again maybe about 30 minutes after clearing the cache. Also if I try to visit the link multiple times quickly, about 50% of the times I will actually end up on the correct Google Chrome download page, and the rest of the times I will be redirected to:

https[:]//accounts[.]google[.]com/ServiceLogin/webreauth?service=ah&passive=true&continue=https%3A%2F%2Fuc.appengine[.]google[.]com%2F_ah%2Fconflogin%3Fcontinue%3Dhttps%3A%2F%2Fchr-183746449-dot-googwebreview[.]appspot[.]com%2Fchrome%2Fbrowser-tools%2F%253Fxpv%253D1&flowName=GlifWebSignIn&flowEntry=ServiceLogin.

This was encountered using Safari on MacOS Big Sur 11.2.3. The other odd thing is that it says that (google.com/chrome) is the referrer for:

https[:]//accounts[.]google[.]com/ServiceLogin/webreauth?service=ah&passive=true&continue=https%3A%2F%2Fuc.appengine[.]google[.]com%2F_ah%2Fconflogin%3Fcontinue%3Dhttps%3A%2F%2Fchr-183746449-dot-googwebreview[.]appspot[.]com%2Fchrome%2Fbrowser-tools%2F%253Fxpv%253D1&flowName=GlifWebSignIn&flowEntry=ServiceLogin 

when I check the web requests in dev tools. However, if I use private browsing on Safari this issue does not happen, and it goes to the correct Google Chrome Download page: https://www.google.com/chrome.

I would really appreciate if anyone can shed any insight, because I am kind of worried why this is happening and if this machine and / or my network is potentially compromised.

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    Looks like some application trues to link itself to your Google Account, which definitely sounds harmful. Given that HTTPS is used I rather suspect something on your machine though as the cause of the problem, for example some browser extension. Commented Apr 20, 2021 at 4:36
  • This even happens after re-formatting the hard drive and re-installing macOS Big Sur 11.2.3 from the recovery partition. Would that suggest that something has gained root control and modified the recovery partition itself? Otherwise, it would seem to be a DNS or other network issue. However, it does not happen on any other machines on the network besides this Mac mini. I even tried resetting the web cache of the Mac mini and trying this on another network, and it stopped momentarily but still happened eventually. I really can't seem to figure out why though, and it seems pretty alarming.
    – javaWebDev
    Commented Apr 20, 2021 at 4:46
  • Which browser is used? Does it happen with another browser? Are there any browser extensions active? Commented Apr 20, 2021 at 4:56
  • It was using Safari. I did not go ahead and install chrome because of this issue. However, if I use private browsing on Safari this issue does not happen, and it goes to the correct Google Chrome Download page: google.com/chrome. There are also no browser extensions installed.
    – javaWebDev
    Commented Apr 20, 2021 at 4:58
  • So this is a freshly installed MacOS without any software apart from what comes with the system by default? Commented Apr 20, 2021 at 5:03

1 Answer 1

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I assume this URL re-direction activity as suspicious (Phishing) due to the below reasons. You can visit this site to know more details.

  1. Google never requires sign-in to download chrome binary.
  2. https[:]//chr-183746449-dot-googwebreview[.]appspot[.]com is not an official Google site but a random site hosted in appspot with SSL(GCP domin) which mostly requires Gmail authentication to access (through Firebase).
  3. Your final URL pretend to show Chrome browser features page but the actual site is https://www.google.com/chrome/browser-features/.
  4. Anyone can deploy a random application in Google Cloud with unique hostname having domain xxxxx[.]appspot[.]com so your specific URL is not shown as suspicious in Virustotal.

As stated in the comments, many users are facing such re-direction so nothing to worry about your specific system or internet. This might be a local cache / DNS configuration issue and you may report it to chromium team.

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  • Yes, I realize it's suspicious and that's not an official link, that's why I asked about it. Where do you see that many users are facing such redirections? I was the only one discussing it in the comments above and I have only seen one other instance of someone posting about it on reddit. The thing that makes no sense is that why the re-direction happens. I would think it might be a DNS issue or local network issue, but no other machines on my network experience it. Otherwise think it could be that somehow this machines cache got tampered with, but why does it reoccur again after some time?
    – javaWebDev
    Commented Apr 21, 2021 at 8:09
  • This appears to be normal malicious Google activity. Since google is a known threat actor which plants malware on billions of systems for the purposes of tracking, it should be no surprise that they redirect you around half the internet. The idea that you can simply hyperlink to the direct URL is just a stone too far for most companies.
    – john doe
    Commented Apr 21, 2021 at 14:21

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