Chrome extensions add utility to an already extremely useful Google Chrome browser. Unfortunately, however, just like with any other sort of downloadable app or file we need to be careful when installing them onto our devices. We recently covered a fake Chrome extension that was masquerading as the plugin for a popular Windows app. Today, however, we bring you news of several extensions that are secretly tracking their users’ browser activity.
Cybersecurity researchers at McAfee have uncovered five Google Chrome extensions that when installed onto Chrome secretly monitor the user’s web activity. Furthermore, whenever the user then visits e-commerce websites, they secretly add affiliate cookies to make it look like they came to the website via a referral for which the scammer receives a fee.
Unfortunately, as McAfee reports, these extensions have been downloaded over 1.4 million times between them and offer a variety of different functions all designed to lure unsuspecting victims in. These include enabling multiple users to watch Netflix together, take screenshots of websites, and take advantage of website coupon savings. The full list of the false extensions highlighted by McAfee, comp0lete with the number of installs they’ve received and their Extension IDs so you can check if you have them installed on your version of Chrome or not are as follows:
Netflix Party with 800,000 installs
Netflix Party 2 with 300,000 installs
FlipShope Price Tracker Extension with 80,000 installs
Full Page Screenshot Capture Screenshotting with 200,000 installs
AutoBuy Flash Sales with 20,000 installs
Unfortunately, this news clearly indicates that you can’t trust a Chrome extension simply because it has a lot of installs already. You need to run extra checks to make sure you are not going to fall victim to a scam. This means always checking the permissions that these apps ask for when you are installing them. If anything looks off then you should do further research into the extension itself and into alternative extensions to see what kind of permissions they are asking for.
In other Chrome cybersecurity news, if you haven’t updated Chrome recently you should probably do it now as Google has been patching some serious security flaws.