Google Chrome extensions are meant to enhance the functionality of the web browser, but these ones are putting users in danger. However, cybercriminals are now using Chrome extensions to steal web searches and inject ads into pages. A recent discovery by antivirus software firm Avast has revealed a collection of harmful browser extensions on the Chrome Web Store. These extensions are responsible for distributing adware and manipulating search results. Notably, cybersecurity researcher Wladimir Palant was the first to analyze the PDF Toolbox extension, which is available on the Chrome Web Store.
The worrying part is that the team has found 32 malicious Chrome extensions with an alarming 75 million downloads collectively from the Chrome Web Store. The range of functionalities of these extensions varied from ad blockers, downloaders, and browser themes to recorders and tab managers. It is worth noting that an additional 50 extensions have already been removed from the platform, Avast confirmed in a blog post.
How do these malware-loaded extensions pose a threat?
The most challenging aspect of malicious browser extensions is that they seem harmless at first, Avast added. These extensions are created to provide useful features and may appear harmful at first. However, hidden malicious code within them is what makes it difficult to detect. The harmful effects of these extensions include bombarding users with unwanted ads and changing search results by showing sponsored links, paid search results, and possibly dangerous links.
Should you worry?
Thankfully, Google has removed all of the mentioned malicious Chrome extensions in this case.
- However, being vigilant is the need of the hour! However, those who have downloaded them, must delete them immediately.
- Before downloading any extension even from a reputed platform such as Chrome Web store, you must check the developer’s reputation and reviews.
- Additionally, exercise caution when encountering extensions that ask for unnecessary permissions or appear to have unrelated functions.
- You can find the full list of malicious Chrome extensions here. If you have any, you must remove it from your web browser now. Also, ensure to run your system through an anti-virus scanner.