Fake Adblock Plus extension downloaded from Chrome Store over 37,000 times

By midian182 ยท 5 replies
Oct 10, 2017
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  1. We’re often assured that programs on official online stores are safe, but there are times when malicious software can slip through the cracks and appear as legitimate products. The latest example involves the Chrome Web Store, where a fake Adblock Plus extension was downloaded over 37,000 times before being removed.

    The excellent cybersecurity expert who goes by the Twitter name SwiftOnSecurity discovered the phony extension, which has since been taken down by Google. It fooled people into thinking it was the real deal by mimicking the original Adblock Plus page, only with a capital “B” in the title and using a different developer name.

    One element that made the extension stand out as a fake was the numerous keywords in its description, placed there in the hope that the listing would appear in unrelated search queries. Some users also left reviews pointing out it was a fraud that brought invasive ads and opened tabs without permission.

    "Google allows 37,000 Chrome users to be tricked with a fake extension by [a] fraudulent developer who clones popular name and spams keywords," tweeted SwiftOnSecurity. "Legitimate developers just have to sit back and watch as Google smears them with fake extensions that steal their good name."

    Google clamped down on malicious software in 2015 by stopping Windows and Mac users from downloading Chrome extensions not hosted on the Chrome Web Store. Google said the move resulted in a 75 percent drop in the number of customer support help requests for uninstalling unwanted extensions.

    A similar naming technique was used in a sophisticated phishing attack earlier this year. It consisted of a third-party web app named Google Docs that tricked users into handing over access to their contacts and Gmails.

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  2. Kenrick

    Kenrick TS Evangelist Posts: 628   +402

    Another example is IDM. I wonder how this could happen. do they hire kids to press the approve button.
    Fidola1961 likes this.
  3. wiyosaya

    wiyosaya TS Evangelist Posts: 2,623   +1,238

    One way it happens is when people who do not know what they are doing download stuff and install it. My father-in-law is one such person. He takes a "let me see what this does" approach and installs crap even though it has burned him in the past.

    However, given 37,000 people supposedly installed this, I cannot see that everyone did not know what they were doing, yet they were fooled. In this day and age, IMO anyway, it pays to be extremely cautious of everything and only download and install what you really need. I've known people, developers even, in the past who installed every POS software they could get their hands on. I have to thank myself for not being one of those persons.
  4. Robertrogue

    Robertrogue TS Enthusiast Posts: 40   +20

    There is more than 37,000 senior citizens that use computers. Between my kids, parents and in-laws, I am always having to repair the computers for these type things. The bigger problem is that we have too many crooks and scammers (which are crooks also, IMO) in this world with too many trusting folks like us to take advantage of.
    Fidola1961 likes this.
  5. cuerdc

    cuerdc TS Booster Posts: 133   +34

    Ads fighting back, you will get your daily dose of ads
  6. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 13,659   +3,116

    I think Google is pushing its own ad blocker on YouTube.... I got tired of it interrupting videos, so for laughs, I followed the links. I got to the site and it told me "you have the wrong browser". So, either that was an enticement from Google to download "Chrome", or the fake ad blocker was advertising on YouTube.:confused:
    Fidola1961 likes this.

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