Chrome Extensions Malware Guide: Problems, Dangers & Removal
- Salman Ahmed
- June 28th, 2018
“People’s computers are not getting more secure. They are getting more infected with viruses. They are getting more under the control of malware.” – (Avi Rubin)
Chrome extensions malware are annoying as hell! One would think the extension they are installing will enhancing their browsing experiecne. Sadly, this is not the case. There are hundreds and thousands of browser extensions that contain dangerous malware and have one objective – steal user’s data!
However, don’t worry, if there is a problem then there is a solution! That is why we are here to provide you with a detailed step-by-step guide about Chrome extensions malware. So, let’s go!
There are thousands of Chrome extensions available for every kind of users offering multiple features. How these Chrome extensions help users to boost their experience and improve work speed with proficient quality?
By installing a Chrome extension, an icon will appear on the sidebar of the browser, from where you can directly use the feature and customize further by using filters. For example, by installing “Gmail Checker” extension, a user can instantly check their emails without going to Gmail website. And it’s just a start, you name the feature you want and different Chrome extensions are available for that specific purpose.
However, due an open source nature of many add-ons, there is a high possibility that you might install Chrome extensions malware instead of legit extension, which we will discuss later in this blog.
So, how could users install these Chrome extensions? You can find it below.
Well, the primary source of installing Chrome extensions is Google’s Chrome Web Store. Although, numerous developers and software organizations also offers their extensions directly. The Chrome Web Store is built on website kind of platform that you can open on your Chrome browser only.
Most of the extensions available on Chrome Web Store are free, while some of the software companies offered paid version too.
To install the extensions on Chrome browser search for a feature you want it in extension or simply click on the category open available on left side of the store. After finding a specific extension on Chrome Web Store, click on the extension > on the top right side, the icon will appear that says “ADD TO CHROME” > Click on it and extension will install directly on your Chrome browser.
Another reason for installing selective extensions is of large disk space it uses on your device, which directly effects your device performance significantly.
In the top right corner of Chrome browser, you can see a list of extension is available > simply set the cursor on the specific extension Icon you want to delete > now press right-click with the help of mouse > the list of options will appear > select “Remove from Chrome.”
In case if you don’t see the extension icon, then follow these steps:
Before guiding about Chrome extensions malware, we think we should inform you about what kind of user’s data are collected, as the online privacy concerns are rising. Especially after what Dylan Curran exposed about Facebook and Google.
According to Hackread, all the Chrome browser users who think that their online data privacy is maintained while using different chrome extensions, then, unfortunately, they are very far away from the bitter reality of these tech giants.
In a recent research conducted by Ad-guard owner “Andrey Meshkov,” revealed that there are several Chrome extensions, which not only collects users data but also sell it to different analytical and data research organizations like Cambridge Analytica.
Furthermore, he also revealed the intensity of data collected by these chrome extensions, which give you shock and takes you in a situation where you need to decide whether you still use chrome extensions or not on an immediate basis. Here is the list of data type we have collected by some popular Chrome extensions.
When you sign in your Facebook account on Chrome browser, then it is possible that one of the most commonly used Chrome extensions might collect and monitor your activities on Facebook.
According to a recent AdGuard report, Chrome extension “Video Downloader for Facebook” is one of those extensions that continuously monitors and collects user’s data and activity. Not only that, it also shared the collected user’s data with third parties, which users are not aware off.
These Chrome extensions are not limited only to collect your social platform data but also collect your debit and credit information from different websites that you used on Chrome browser.
One of the popular Chrome extensions, “PDF Files Merger” with over 125,000 users, collects account credentials data, which was revealed in the AdGuard report a few months ago.
“Album and Photo Manager for Facebook” and “Pixcam Webcam Effects” Chrome extensions also collects user’s social platform credentials, which are further, sold to different research and analytical organizations for marketing purposes.
We know that you are still in shock after what we revealed above, but it is a bitter reality of today’s online industry. However, Google officials ban most of these extensions earlier this year but danger still revolving around Chrome browser.
According to our technical experts, these anonymous developers can change legit Chrome extensions into Malware. Moreover, shockingly these Chrome extensions malware can infect your devices and steal your data without letting you know.
So how can legit Chrome extensions transfer into Malware?
This is a very alarming situation for Chrome users that it is possible to transform extensions into Malware. How is it possible?
As Chrome browser automatically updates, if it doesn’t require any permissions to update Chrome extensions, as it will run on the previous version’s permission terms and conditions. It leaves the door open for developers to send malicious malware into your device without letting you know.
In last few months, there are several cases of Chrome extensions malware, which leads to damage to users’ devices. The developers found phishing attacks on their extensions that were in the form of anonymous ads on different web pages while users were using their extension.
The question here is why did it happen and why developers can’t control it this transformation of Chrome extensions into malware? Well, it’s all about money like there are several scenarios in which these extensions gain massive amount of users, but don’t get enough monetary returns.
In this case, several organizations in the online industries keep monitoring the performance of different extensions and when they find any potential, they purchased it from developers.
After buying the extension, these organizations modify the extension by inserting ads and tracking elements and upload it on Chrome Web Store as a new update without identifying the new ownership and warning.
After updating it, the users are using Chrome extension malware without any notification that they are using different extension under the same name. From here, these organizations get access to your personal information and you can’t do anything about it.
So, how this Chrome Extensions Malware infects your device?
These malicious Chrome Extensions can hijack your Chrome browser by selling the access to different anonymous hackers and organizations to collect your online data.
By giving access to these cybercriminals, they can track your every activity, which you are doing on Chrome browser. It means these hackers can easily follow your password, account information and other sensitive data without letting you know.
Now you are in shock and confused at the same time that how someone can identify these Chrome extensions malware? Well don’t worry, we got you cover here. Following section provides you a list of hacks that can save you from being a victim of Chrome extensions malware.
To check whether your device browser is not running any king of Chrome extensions malware, following are the few hacks that could help you to secure your online data proficiently.
There is a high possibility of transformation of Chrome extensions ownership from developers to different data selling organizations. So, the first hack to keep yourself safe from using Chrome extension malware, keep checking who owns the extension and is it the same developer at the time you installed it.
By checking this information on regular basis, you can keep your device safe from these malicious extensions malware easily. In case if you are still confused about the legitimation of developer, then search for the reviews related to the developer. It will provide you more clarity about the Chrome extensions that is it legit or a malware.
Moreover, you can also find out information regarding the developer of the extension by clicking on the name, which is mentioned under the name of extension at Chrome Web Store.
Reading a content or description before buying or installing any software is something we usually don’t bother to do, which leads to installing malicious software. That is why, always read the content before installing any Chrome extension on your device. This will help you to know what kind of information that particular extension is collecting and sharing.
However, not all the Chrome extensions available on the Web Store include these details, but after strict policies implemented by several governments, most of them do now.
Permission is a crucial factor that could save you from malicious Chrome extensions malware. When you click to add an extension on your Chrome browser, a permission pop up will appear that shows what access extension needs to provide any specific feature.
So, before click on “Add extension” option, read about the information it collects. Think about the data sensitivity it needs and then make your decision whether it is worth or not and it will keep your online data secure.
The next thing that helps you to keep your online data saves from Chrome extensions malware are “reviews” regarding specific extension you are going to install.
However, it is a fact that you can’t always trust users reviews. But our tech experts find a way to recognize which review is fake or genuine. So, how to find out the actual review?
If you see reviews that use almost same words and language, then there is a possibility that these reviews are fake. Therefore, if the language and wording are different, it’s a high chance that they are genuine.
Moreover, do not try to read every single review regarding specific extension you want to install since it takes ages to read all of them. By using the above trick could help you to decide whether this extension is safe to use or not.
This trick is not for everyone because it needs technical skilsl to apply, although it is beneficial to identify which extension contains a malware. So if you can recognize malicious source code, then you have the advantage to identify which Chrome extension is legit or a malware.
In case you already install an extension that contains a malware on your Chrome browser and don’t know what to do now, don’t worry, following methods will help you in how to remove Chrome extensions malware.
Following are the methods that can help you out to remove Chrome extensions malware from your device.
The first method is similar to the process that helps to remove legit Chrome extension. First, try to remove Chrome extension malware by following the steps mentioned above. However, sometimes due to robust malware source coding, this method failed to remove these malware-containing extensions. For this, follow the mentioned below method.
This method is very useful to remove Chrome extensions malware and works great in most of the cases except your device is affected by some deadly malware, which can remove only by rebooting your device to factory setting.
There are several reliable malware cleaners available online. Find the one that works fine for removing malware from browsers. Before using any malware cleaner, always check whether it is reliable or not by reading its reviews on the different trustworthy website.
One of the reasons to use Chrome as a default browser on our devices is due to its large variety of extensions that help to do our work proficiently. However, by offering an open door for developers and lack of monetization by Google officials, these Chrome extensions are becoming dangerous for users rather than an ultimate feature.
We hope that you would find this Chrome extensions malware guide helps to keep your device performance stable and online data secure. Our tech experts do their best to provide you with every possible information about Chrome extensions.
In case if you still have any query or confusion, feel free to contact us by shouting out your comment below.