Over 100 New Chrome Browser Extensions Caught Spying On Users
Google recently removed 106 more extensions from its Chrome Web Store after they were found illegally collecting sensitive user data as part of a "massive global surveillance campaign" targeting oil and gas, finance, and healthcare sectors. "This campaign and the Chrome extensions involved performed operations such as taking screenshots of the victim device, loading malware, reading the clipboard, and actively harvesting tokens and user input," Awake Security said.
The extensions in question posed as utilities offering capabilities to convert files from one format to the other, among other tools for secure browsing, while relying on thousands of fake reviews to trick unsuspecting users into installing them. In total, the extensions were downloaded nearly 33 million times over the course of three months before Awake Security reached out to Google in May.
Telemetry data has revealed that some of these extensions were active on the networks of "financial services, oil and gas, media and entertainment, healthcare and pharmaceuticals, retail, high-tech, higher education, and government organizations," although there's no evidence that they were actually used to collect sensitive data. It's recommended that users review extension permissions by visiting "chrome://extensions" on the Chrome browser, consider uninstalling those that are rarely used, or switch to other software alternatives that don't require invasive access to browser activity.