Google hunts malicious extensions in Chrome

In order to avoid unpleasant surprises for users of the Web Store in its web browser, Google has removed malicious adware.

By now, you probably know that you should exercise caution when installing programs on your computer. But savvy web users know that the same applies to extensions for browsers – which are, in a way, just smaller programs on a more specific platform. This is the case with a series of five extensions for Chrome that Google recently removed from its official Chrome Web Store repository.

The five extensions had been installed by a combined 1.4 million users before Google removed them. According to a report by McAfee security researchers (via Ars Technica), these plug-ins keep a list of all websites visited by the user, along with their location down to the city where they are located. The extension would then inject personalized JavaScript advertisements on certain websites, earning developers ill-gotten ad revenue.

Google’s responsibility in question

The affected extensions are Netflix Party, Netflix Party 2, FlipShope – Price Tracker Extension, Full Page Screenshot Capture – Screenshotting and AutoBuy Flash Sales. If any of them are on your Chrome browsers or Chrome OS devices, remove them now.

In some cases, the extensions would wait fifteen days to inject their advertising, making the source of the problem all the more difficult to trace. Extensions that hijack browsers to spread even more ads across the web are nothing new. But the fact that these extensions appeared on the Chrome Web Store, apparently with Google’s seal of approval, and could affect such a wide range of users, is problematic. Users can always be blamed for being negligent, but if Google hosts malicious extensions and offers them directly to users, then the company must take responsibility.

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