Google purges 500 harmful Chrome extensions from its Web Store

The extensions injected aggressive, infectious advertisements into millions of users’ browsers

Chrome browser logo

Google has deactivated at least 500 malware-ridden Chrome extensions from its Web Store following the findings of an independent security investigation. 

The removed extensions employed aggressive ‘malvertisements’ by steering users to destination links susceptible to malware downloads and phishing attacks. 

Concern originally rose after independent security researcher Jamila Kaya flagged the activity as suspicious, recognising a common URL across a number of malicious ad redirects, all of which stemmed from a variety of Chrome extensions.

Advertisement - Article continues below

"Individually, I identified more than a dozen extensions that shared a pattern," Kaya told ZDNet

Kaya contacted researchers at Cisco’s Duo Security, and together they used Duo’s security extension ‘CRXcavator’ to identify the Chrome add-ons as dubious, belonging to “a network of copycat plugins sharing nearly identical functionality” as described by Duo’s report on the issue. 

Google’s “receptive and responsive” reaction saw the company swiftly remove more than 500 associated extensions from Chrome’s Web Store, which according to Duo, had garnered an install count totaling more than 1.7 million Chrome users.

“We appreciate the work of the research community, and when we are alerted of extensions in the Web Store that violate our policies, we take action and use those incidents as training material to improve our automated and manual analyses,” said a Google spokesperson in response to Duo’s report. 

Advertisement
Advertisement - Article continues below

Although the ad redirects were described to be particularly hostile and noticeable, this strategy of forceful redirection seems to have become typical of digital advertisers. Thus, it is especially difficult for users to gauge whether or not an ad redirect will jeopardise their personal security. 

Duo researchers speculate the group behind the network to have been operating since the early half of the 2010s. The extensions are suspected to have belonged to a larger malware network operation active for at least two years.

Featured Resources

The case for a marketing content hub

Transform your digital marketing to deliver customer expectations

Download now

Fast, flexible and compliant e-signatures for global businesses

Be at the forefront of digital transformation with electronic signatures

Download now

Why CEOS should care about the move to SAP S/4HANA

And how they can accelerate business value

Download now

IT faces new security challenges in the wake of COVID-19

Beat the crisis by learning how to secure your network

Download now
Advertisement

Most Popular

Visit/operating-systems/microsoft-windows/355812/microsoft-warns-against-installing-windows-10-may-2020
Microsoft Windows

Microsoft warns users not to install Windows 10's May update

28 May 2020
Visit/security/data-breaches/355777/easyjet-faces-class-action-lawsuit-over-data-breach
data breaches

EasyJet faces class-action lawsuit over data breach

26 May 2020
Visit/security/cyber-security/355797/microsoft-bans-trend-micros-rootkit-buster-from-windows-10
cyber security

Microsoft bans Trend Micro driver from Windows 10 for "cheating" hardware tests

27 May 2020