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Google Chrome extensions used by millions discovered to be spyware

Most of these malicious free extensions masqueraded as Google Chrome extensions that help surfers stay clear of questionable sites and convert file formats on the go.

  • Published: June 18, 2020 12:56 PM IST
Google Chrome

New spyware was recently discovered affecting millions of Google Chrome users. The spyware effort out about 32 million Chrome users at risk, based on download numbers of malicious Chrome extensions. These extensions were freely available to download and install on the Google extensions page and hence, were commonly used. Also Read - Google pulls down TikTok clone app from Play Store

After the revelation was made by Awake Security, as per a report by Reuters, Google removed over 70 malicious extensions off the Web Store that violated policies. Despite the action, the incident brings attention to the fact that security measures are not tight enough for Google Chrome, one of the most commonly used browsers of the world. Also Read - Google Stadia now works on more Android phones

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“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,” Google spokesman Scott Westover said in the report. Also Read - OnePlus 8 series Google One 100GB offer is for 3 months: Check details

Most of these malicious free extensions masqueraded as add ons that help surfers stay clear of questionable sites and convert file formats on the go. Instead, they siphoned off browsing history and data that provided credentials for access to internal business tools. Based on the number of downloads of this seemingly useful and harmless extension, the incident would go down as the biggest malicious campaign Google Chrome has faced.

Google also refused to discuss elements like the damage caused by the malicious add ons, or why it did not detect these extensions on its own. “Anything that gets you into somebody’s browser or email or other sensitive areas would be a target for national espionage as well as organized crime,” said former National Security Agency engineer Ben Johnson. The incident also shows that attackers can basically hide in plain sight by using simple elements like extensions.

It is still unclear who was behind the effort to distribute the malware. As per Awake, the developers of the extensions unsurprisingly supplied fake contact information when they submitted the extensions to Google.

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  • Published Date: June 18, 2020 12:56 PM IST

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