Hack on popular Chrome plugin spams ads to one million users

The author says a phishing scam led to the theft of admin credentials

The developer of a popular Chrome extension has warned users to update to the latest version after hackers were able to hijack the plugin to inject ads and potentially run malicious scripts on the browser.

Chris Pederick, author of the Web Developer for Chrome extension, alerted subscribers on Wednesday afternoon that he had fallen victim to a phishing scam that had scalped his admin credentials. Hackers were then able to update the extension to version 0.4.9 with a bundled script command and send it out to more than one million users.

Once installed on a user's browser, the extension would run JavaScript code to inject adverts into Chrome pages. Although it is thought this was the main purpose of the attack, the author admits it could have acted more maliciously, such as reading passwords entered into web fields, however there is currently no evidence of this happening.

Pederick kept a detailed account of the attack on his twitter feed, in which he has since urged users to update to v0.5 of the extension immediately. Although not every machine with the extension seems to have been affected, it is thought the hackers could have raked in a considerable amount in ad revenue during the short attack window.

The cause of the attack is thought to be a phishing email he received, which has also been tied to other attacks on web extensions. The Copyfish extension, which allows for image and video extraction from a web page, was also hit by a similar attack last weekend after receiving an email from someone claiming to be a member of the Google team.

Advertisement
Advertisement - Article continues below

The email, which is thought to be the same used against Pederick, described an issue with the extension that would result in it being taken offline, and directed the authors to a genuine looking ticket page, which tracked the progress of the issue.

Copyfish authors noted that an IP address was logged during the attack which suggests it came from a Macbook located somewhere in Russia.

Featured Resources

The IT Pro guide to Windows 10 migration

Everything you need to know for a successful transition

Download now

Managing security risk and compliance in a challenging landscape

How key technology partners grow with your organisation

Download now

Software-defined storage for dummies

Control storage costs, eliminate storage bottlenecks and solve storage management challenges

Download now

6 best practices for escaping ransomware

A complete guide to tackling ransomware attacks

Download now
Advertisement

Recommended

Visit/security/354156/google-confirms-android-cameras-can-be-hijacked-to-spy-on-you
Security

Google confirms Android cameras can be hijacked to spy on you

20 Nov 2019
Visit/security/28014/how-to-enable-private-browsing
web browser

How to enable private browsing on any browser

25 Jun 2019
Visit/web-browsers/24796/which-is-the-best-browser-chrome-vs-firefox-vs-microsoft-edge
web browser

Google Chrome vs Firefox vs Microsoft Edge

30 Apr 2019

Most Popular

Visit/security/identity-and-access-management-iam/354289/44-million-microsoft-customers-found-using
identity and access management (IAM)

44 million Microsoft customers found using compromised passwords

6 Dec 2019
Visit/cloud/microsoft-azure/354230/microsoft-not-amazon-is-going-to-win-the-cloud-wars
Microsoft Azure

Microsoft, not Amazon, is going to win the cloud wars

30 Nov 2019
Visit/network-internet/wifi-hotspots/354283/industrial-wi-fi-6-trial-reveals-blistering-speeds
wifi & hotspots

Industrial Wi-Fi 6 trial reveals blistering speeds

5 Dec 2019
Visit/business/policy-legislation/354282/boris-johnson-suggests-uk-will-side-with-us-over-huawei
Policy & legislation

Boris Johnson suggests UK will side with US over Huawei exclusion

5 Dec 2019