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 [Source: This article was Published in zdnet.com By Catalin Cimpanu - Uploaded by the Association Member: Deborah Tannen]

Extension developer says he sold the extension weeks before; not responsible for the shady behavior.

Google has removed a Chrome extension from the official Web Store yesterday for secretly hijacking search engine queries and redirecting users to ad-infested search results.

The extension's name was "YouTube Queue," and at the time it was removed from the Web Store, it had been installed by nearly 7,000 users.

The extension allowed users to queue multiple YouTube videos in the order they wanted for later viewing.

EXTENSION TURNED INTO ADWARE IN EARLY JUNE

But under the hood, it also intercepted search engine queries, redirected the query through the Croowila URL, and then redirected users to a custom search engine named Information Vine, which listed the same Google search results but heavily infused with ads and affiliate links.

 

Users started noticing the extension's shady behavior almost two weeks ago, when first reports surfaced on Reddit, followed by two more, a few days later [12].

The extension was removed from the Web Store yesterday after Microsoft Edge engineer (and former Google Chrome developer) Eric Lawrence pointed out the extension's search engine hijacking capabilities on Twitter.

eric lawrence

Lawrence said the extension's shady code was only found in the version listed on the Chrome Web Store, but not in the extension's GitHub repository.

In an interview with The Register, the extension's developer claimed he had no involvement and that he previously sold the extension to an entity going by Softools, the name of a well-known web application platform.

In a following inquiry from The Register, Softools denied having any involvement with the extension's development, let alone the malicious code.

The practice of a malicious entity offering to buy a Chrome extension and then adding malicious code to the source is not a new one.

Such incidents have been first seen as early as 2014, and as recently as 2017, when an unknown party bought three legitimate extensions (Particle for YouTube, Typewriter Sounds, and Twitch Mini Player) and repurposed them to inject ads on popular sites.

In a 2017 tweet, Konrad Dzwinel, a DuckDuckGo software engineer and the author of the SnappySnippet, Redmine Issues Checker, DOMListener, and CSS-Diff Chrome extensions, said he usually receives inquiries for selling his extensions every week.

konrad

In a February 2019 blog post, antivirus maker Kaspersky warned users to "do a bit of research to ensure the extension hasn't been hijacked or sold" before installing it in their browser.

Developers quietly selling their extensions without notifying users, along with developers falling for spear-phishing campaigns aimed at their Chrome Web Store accounts, are currently the two main methods through which malware gangs take over legitimate Chrome extensions to plant malicious code in users' browsers.

COMING AROUND TO THE AD BLOCKER DEBATE

Furthermore, Lawrence points out that the case of the YouTube Queue extension going rogue is the perfect example showing malicious threat actors abusing the Web Request API to do bad things.

This is the same API that most ad blockers are using, and the one that Google is trying to replace with a more stunted one named the Declarative Net Request API.

eric

This change is what triggered the recent public discussions about "Google killing ad blockers."

However, Google said last week that 42% of all the malicious extensions the company detected on its Chrome Web Store since January 2018, were abusing the Web Request API in one way or another -- and the YouTube Queue extension is an example of that.

In a separate Twitter thread, Chrome security engineer Justin Schuh again pointed out that Google's main intent in replacing the old Web Request API was privacy and security-driven, and not anything else like performance or ad blockers, something the company also officially stated in a blog post last week.

justin

justin schuh

 

Categorized in Internet Privacy

Source: This article was Published qz.com By Dave Gershgorn - Contributed by Member: Dennis Smith

Ten years into its life, Chrome is the most widely-used internet browser in the world. But the stock features aren’t what make it so popular. There’s also a thriving community of developers adding onto the browser with extensions, little pieces of software that add features Google hasn’t dreamt up yet.

The Quartz staff like their extensions. After all, we all spend a borderline unhealthy amount of time on the internet, whether it be researching, writing, or fact-checking stories. Here are the ways our favorites have helped us out:

Clutter/tab maintenance

If you’re like us, you have way too many tabs open. The holy trinity of tab maintenance can help: The Great Suspender pauses tabs after a certain amount of time so they don’t use processing power in the background, OneTab is great for condensing all the tabs you’re keeping open “to read later” into one summary tab, and Clutter Freemakes sure you don’t have duplicate tabs open.

Productivity

Sometimes you want to jot down a quick note but don’t want to open a word processor. Papier turns each new tab’s homepage into a notebook for recording quick thoughts or distraction-free writing. And everything is backed up to Chrome, so you won’t lose it later.

Search

The Personal Blocklist extension, made by Google, filters out certain domains from your searches, so if you don’t like a certain site you don’t need to see it. (Keep qz.com, please.) A Quartz developer says that it’s useful to block out certain unhelpful sites when Googling through a web development problem.

Writing

Sometimes a hand you need with grammar. Grammarly.

News

Use Pocket to save good stories and NewsGuard to fend against bad ones. Quartz science editor Elijah Wolfson also sends longer stories he really wants to read to his Kindle using Push to Kindle. It’s distraction-free reading at its best, with no notifications or ads or messages.

Password management

A password manager is just basic internet hygiene—use one to maintain strong passwords for every one of your internet accounts. The most popular ones are 1Password, LastPass, and Dashlane— there are pros and cons to each, and the Quartz staff uses them all. Just remember the master password—your digital life depends on it.

Archive search

Once it’s on the internet, it lives forever. That’s pretty much due to Archive.org, which stores decades of revisions to websites, as well as preserved copies of sites that don’t exist anymore. The Wayback Machine extension allows you to see saved versions of web pages that have been either taken down or are otherwise unavailable, a boon to any internet historian.

Money Saver

Get around academic paywalls with extensions like Kopernio and Unpaywall, which search for accessible PDFs of the paper online. Or, find out if you’re actually getting a good deal with a price tracker like CamelCamelCamel.

GIFs

My trustiest Chrome extension is called MakeGIF, and it’s very simple. It makes GIFs. It’s particularly good at capturing and converting YouTube videos.

Fun

Inject a little bit of simple internet nostalgia into your life with Tabogotchi, which makes a game out of how many tabs you have open, or Tabby Cat, which generates an internet cat you can virtually pet for every tab you open.

Categorized in Search Engine

Newest Chrome Features

Chrome users did not see a plethora of new features in 2016. But, there were some noteworthy items. Here are just a few of those from the Chrome Blog along with the month of the release or announcement:

  • Chrome speed was increased with a friendlier battery (September).
  • The elimination of Flash in Chrome (August).
  • Celebrating 50 Google Chrome releases (April).
  • The addition of virtual reality art (April).
  • What was planned for Chrome in 2016 (January).

3 Must-Read Chrome Posts

1. Chrome vs. Firefox in 2016: Which Browser Is Right For You? — In April, Joel Lee gave us this terrific and helpful piece. For those on the fence between Chrome and Firefox, Joel emphasizes that the choice is ultimately yours. But he also provides favorite features for both browsers to assist you in that decision.

The article shows why users love Firefox and why they love Chrome with great highlights for each. For example, Firefox fans enjoy the customization features, friendly interface, and privacy features. Whereas those who use Chrome like the extension selection, polished interface, and security features.

browser chrome security

2. 10 Annoying Chrome Issues & How to Fix Them — Following up on how to choose between Firefox and Chrome, Dan Price created this useful article for those who like Chrome, but run into problems at times. As the article mentions, covering all possible issues in one post is impossible. So he covered 10 of the most frustrating ones.

 

If you experience frozen tabs or windows, Dan explains the simple fix. In addition, you can check out how to use the Chrome Clean-Up Tool, edit flags, and delete items such as a user profile, web data file, or an extension.

You can then take a peek at the comments on the article from readers who have experienced these same issues and shared their suggestions on fixes for various other Chrome problems.

chrome task manager

3. Speed Up Chrome By Changing These 8 Flags — Another valuable post from Dan Price helps with those Chrome flags mentioned above. You can quickly read up on these experimental tools. Then, dive right into the eight you can and should change.

The article has you start by accessing the flag menu. Then, you can adjust flags for preventing tab reloading, improving page reload time, closing tabs quicker, and handling low-priority iFrames.

As the post states, there are plenty additional flags to adjust. And, you can add any that you have found yourself to help with Chrome’s speed right into the article comment section.

chrome flags

Standout Extensions

As a Chrome user, you already know that the selection of extensions seems never-ending. Which ones are great, useful, and worth your time? That is something that MakeUseOf strives to assist you with by reviewing and testing them to offer you terrific options.

1. The 13 Best Chrome Extensions by Google You Probably Aren’t Using — In this post, Saikat Basu starts you off with an array of Chrome extensions that you probably do not realize exist. Here are five of those useful tools:

  1. Save to Google Drive for capturing images with a click.
  2. Caret Browsing for navigating webpages easier.
  3. Google Translate for understanding foreign words while you read.
  4. Google Dictionary for simple word definitions as you browse.
  5. Google Scholar Button for quick access to educational articles.

save to gdrive chrome extension

2. 25 Unique Chrome Apps That Are Unusually Useful — In this article, I list out a large selection of extensions that are truly out of the ordinary. But as it turns out, they can be quite useful. Take a look at a few of them:

 

  • 30s Neck Stretch is dedicated to neck health and assists you with relaxing.
  • Shove for link-sharing lets you stay on your current page but share easily.
  • Space Station Finder for the space station location in relation to your spot.
  • Bleak for your weather with the premise of “the weather can always get worse”.
  • Rhymey for finding words that, you guessed it, rhyme with others you select on the page.

bleak for chrome

3. 13 Best Chrome Extensions and Apps to Work Offline — This nifty list from Akshata Shanbhag provides awesome tools for those aggravating times when you are without internet. Check out five of these extensions she mentions:

  • Dayboard for managing tasks and to-dos.
  • Kami for viewing, splitting, merging, and annotating PDF files.
  • Writer for notes, journaling, and general writing in markdown and plain text.
  • Timer for counting down to a certain time in minutes.
  • Polarr Photo Editor for editing photos with filters, history, and export options.

chrome polarr editor

4. The Best Chrome Extensions — This massive list of Chrome tools from Dan Price gives you the best of the best. From privacy to productivity to product purchasing, here are just some of those extensions:

great suspender chrome

The Best of 2016 for Chrome

There is our Chrome year in review. With steps to improve your browser speed, how to fix common issues, and tons of extensions to help you work, it has been quite a year. What types of features or tools are you looking for for Chrome in 2017?

Share your thoughts on this and the MakeUseOf posts that helped you with Chrome the most this year!

Author : Sandy Stachowiak

Source : http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/popular-chrome-extensions/

Categorized in Search Engine

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