Semalt: Don't Get Hooked By Adware Or Malware Infested Extensions

Installing browser extensions and add-ons without caution can be dangerous at times. Irrespective of whether one is careful or not when downloading adding them to the browser, one needs to consider where they get their add-ons from carefully.

Oliver King, the Customer Success Manager of Semalt, discusses how to avoid dangerous malware extensions.

There was one interesting article off the web which claimed that some online users use browser extensions to spy on others. For a person not well versed in how the internet works, it can come as a shock to them. However, gone are the days when clean and useful extensions existed on the web. Companies with ulterior motives ended up cleaning them well off the market. The targeted extensions were those popular with many users. Through this way, they could harvest a lot of information at once.

The companies could then add tracking codes to these extensions and monitor visitor actions or force popup ads on unknowing users. Developers update their extensions on a regular basis which makes it hard to know when a third party malicious individual has control over the system.

Currently, experts have not yet come up with a definite way to discern between legitimate and non-legitimate extensions. The reason is simple. There is no way of telling a compromised extension from one that is not. However, thanks to HTG, researchers continue to review individual extensions to determine if they contain malware or not.

HTG has a public list of all known adware and malware infested extensions. To know the status of the extension, one must install it against the list. To see the currently installed extensions, click on settings and navigate to extensions on the left-hand side.

Chrome Extensions

To disable one, uncheck the enable box or delete it in totality. If the extension appears on the black list, remove it immediately from the system. Alternatively, ExtShield for Chrome scans all the available extensions and sets the compromised ones aside based on the blacklist.

Shield for Chrome

It is one feature that shows the permissions that current extensions have in the system. It continues to monitor all future installations and website behavior and if they show any signs of malicious intent. The developer for shield also intends to create a feature which notifies the user when the extension changes ownership or whenever it begins behaving oddly. Another one called Extension Defender on the Chrome Store also has the same functions, but with a higher rating due to the rise of false positives in ExtShield.

Extension Defender

Similar to shield for chrome, this Extension Defender scans the browser looking for any adware, spyware, or malware. With the new signatures added daily, it also scans and detects any abnormalities, which includes those in and out of the website. It has an open source code which means that the public can trace what every line of code does on the extension. ExtShield does not have this feature which is why people have more trust in Extension Defender.


The current list serves as a first line defense for online users before developers can identify future threats with certainty. Due to the broad privileges that extensions have, they possess a lot of information which makes them potential targets for hackers and other individuals with malicious intent.

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