Google is further stepping up their security improvements and recently removed 5 top ranking ad blockers that turned out to be fake. The company AdGuard published a report revealing these fake browser extensions that have extra code collecting information from visited websites. Google’s swift response successfully ended several of these offenders. When they were available, the extensions sent collected web data to remote servers to manipulate Google Chrome behavior. Essentially, the extension will make the browser do whatever the master server requests.
Illegitimate ad blocking extensions have only been around recently, but last year alone, approximately 37,000 people downloaded a fake “AdBlock Plus” program. The deceitful developer simply plagiarized the common program’s name and spams keywords of the site to reach high search results. After topically imitating the legitimate program, the programmers just added a few lines of malicious code hidden inside standard images. Even though this process is quite simple and quickly performed, it can still have far-reaching, infectious results.
You would think most consumers would approach an apathetic title like “super ad remover” with skepticism, yet it seems the majority of people are indifferent to the name. As long as it claims to remove advertisements, people will download anything. Unfortunately, it’s often you will find the programs that claim to help you or remove the malicious programs are generally those that cause actual harm. When spurious extensions can trick over 20 million people into installing them, it becomes a serious problem.
Simply put, the only good way to protect yourself is to check the author of the extension you are interested in downloading and make sure it’s coming from a company you can trust.
If you find that you are experiencing problems with your browser and believe you could be affected by these extensions, you should try running some malware scans. AdwCleaner, Junkware Removal Tool, and Ccleaner are good utilities to run. If for some reason you are still having problems, completely uninstalling the browser and reinstalling usually takes care of the problem. Don’t forget to export your bookmarks/favorites first!