With exponential increase in the number of active internet users, independent organizations started developing internet browsers. Google chrome is the most well known and popular browser even in 2020. The first thing an internet user come across is the internet browser on the computing device either mobile or desktop. Modern internet browsers are available on all kinds of internet connected devices and operating systems.
What is an Extension?
An important feature added to the internet browsers was the ability to install extensions. Perhaps, extensions were the sole reason behind the continued success of Google's proprietary Chrome browser. An extension is a small piece of software than runs inside a browser instead of the main operating system. Many Web browser developers have established independent stores for extensions such as Chrome's web store. These extensions provide useful features such as converting a PDF file into a word file or simply calculating a few numbers. There are hundreds of categories of extensions.
What an extension can do on your computer?
You may consider an extension a benign piece of software that adds a useful functionality to an existing browsing environment. But this not true all the time. As installing applications on Android mobile phones requires some permissions, the extensions in web browsers requires permissions to certain data. You can get an idea about what type of data an extension can have access to in the following image.
Malicious browser extensions
As it is clearly mentioned in the above picture that the extension can read and change all data on the websites you visit. What does that mean? The extension can even record your user credentials such as usernames and passwords for websites you visit. What if your banking credentials are stolen and communicated to the creator of the extension, most probably the criminal. As the web browsers are the most common applications being used on internet, it is feasible for criminals to target users through extensions instead of building huge cyber espionage campaigns. A single malicious extension can spread to millions of users in a relatively shorter span of time as compared to the other malicious tools. Once a malicious extension is installed in your browser the command and control channel established between your browser and the criminal behind the extension can take complete control of your digital life.
Signs that you are infected with a malicious browser extension:
- Frequent re-directions to the unknown websites.
- Slow browsing speeds.
- Frequent pop ups and advertisements even on real sites.
- New tabs are opening automatically to malicious websites.
- Your browser is opening up to a start page you have never specified in settings.
- You have some extensions visible in your browser you do not remember installing them.
What is the solution to the problem?
- Carefully review the description of the extension before installing.
- Review the permissions before granting access to sensitive information.
- Keep an eye on active extensions in your browser and immediately remove anything suspicious.
- Performing all these steps cannot guarantee full protection. Because almost all of the extensions update automatically so, you will never be able to know if the previously installed legitimate extension has been hacked and automatically updated to malicious version. Therefore, the ultimate solution to the problem is to install some security suite that will regularly. check for browser based threats to your computer such as Avast Premium Security. You can find best deal here.
Stay safe from malicious extensions in 2021.