these popular extensions are bombarding you with spam, uninstall them quickly!

Google took swift action to remove 32 malicious extensions from the Chrome Web Store, which had collectively racked up a staggering 75 million downloads.

Google Chrome
Credit: 123rf

Bad news for Chrome users, popular extensions had the ability to manipulate search results and bombard you with spam and unwanted ads. What is dangerous is that they initially appeared to have legitimate functionality, giving users a false sense of security.

This discovery was made by Wladimir Palant, a cybersecurity researcher, who analyzed the PDF Toolbox extension, available on the Chrome Web Store and counting 2 million downloads. Palant found that the extension contained disguised code. This code allowed to inject arbitrary JavaScript code from the domain “serasearchtop[.]com” in any website visited by the user. This could potentially lead to activities such as inserting advertisements or even stealing sensitive information.

Read also – Google releases its annual list of must-have Chrome extensions

Many Chrome extensions could spy on you

Further investigation by Palant revealed the presence of the same suspicious code in 18 other Chrome extensions totaling 55 million downloads. Notable examples include Autoskip for YouTube, Soundboost, Crystal Ad block, Brisk VPN, Clipboard Helper and Maxi Refresher. Note also that the complete list has not yet been revealed. Despite Palant’s efforts to report these extensions to Google, they remained available on the Chrome Web Store for a long time.

We finally had to wait for the report from Avast, a cybersecurity company, which also confirmed their malicious nature. The list has grown to include a total of 32 entries, collectively representing 75 million installs. Avast found that the extensions appeared harmless to unsuspecting users, but were actually adware that hijacked search results to display sponsored links and paid results, sometimes leading to malicious websites.

Google therefore reacted by stating that the reported extensions had been removed from the Chrome Web Store. It underscored its commitment to user security and privacy, taking appropriate action against extensions that violate its rules. However, it is important to note that removing these extensions from the Chrome Web Store does not automatically disable or uninstall them from users’ browsers. Users must act manually to eliminate the risk. If you are still using Internet Download Manager, we remind you that this is also a malicious extension.

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