Technology

These Malicious Chrome Extensions Have Over 1.4 Million Users – Remove Them Now

The best Google Chrome extensions can add useful features to a popular web browser, but they can also be used to spread malware and threaten your cyber security. And a fresh report (will open in a new tab) from security firm McAfee has identified five extensions that promise to improve your browsing experience but actually steal your data in return.

McAfee identified five malicious browser extensions: Netflix Party (and its successor, Netflix Party 2), FlipShope, a price-tracking extension, Full Page Screenshot Capture, Screenshotting, and AutoBuy Flash Sale. Combined, they have nearly 1.5 million downloads, with the first Netflix Party alone having over 800,000 installs.

These extensions do provide the core functionality they were promised, but according to McAfee, they also inject unwanted code into your browser. If you have one of the five installed, the extension will check to see if it can enter an affiliate income code every time you navigate to a new web page, allowing the extension’s creators to profit from your online purchases without your consent. McAfee has released a video detailing how this process works, which you can watch below.

To Google’s credit, it has taken a hard line against these malicious add-ons and has already removed both Netflix Party extensions from its Chrome Web Store. However, the rest are still alive and available for download. Also, even if the extension is removed from the Chrome Store, users who previously downloaded the extension will still have to take action. You will need to manually remove extensions from your browser to fully protect yourself and ensure that your online security is not compromised.

Earlier this month, cybersecurity experts at Kaspersky Lab estimated that over 1.3 million users were affected by malicious browser extensions in the first half of 2022 alone. In fact, from January 2020 to June 2022, Kaspersky Lab found that over 4.3 million users were hiding adware in their browser extensions. And while Google is constantly removing offensive extensions, new ones continue to appear at an alarming rate.

How to protect yourself from malicious browser extensions

To protect yourself and your data from browser extension threats, Kaspersky Lab strongly recommends that you only use trusted sources to download software. Malware and other unwanted applications are often distributed through third-party resources because they do not have the same security checks as official online stores.

Even when downloading a browser extension from a trusted source, you should still carefully consider any requests for access before agreeing to them. As the five examples above prove, even reputable online stores can host extensions with sinister intent.

At the same time, it is also worth limiting the number of extensions you use and periodically check which extensions you have installed in your browser. McAfee has previously identified extensions that look fine at first but start collecting your data after a set period of time. So make sure you constantly check what permissions extensions are asking for.

Finally, one of the best antivirus software solutions should be installed on all your devices as they can flag malicious extensions and warn you to remove them before your data gets into the wrong hands.

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