In terms of worldwide usage of web browsers as a desktop browser, Google’s Chrome has a market share of over 60%. Its extensions – the small software programmes that can modify and enhance the functionality of the Chrome browser – are often used as efficiency tools and productivity aides.
The fact that attackers have seized control of several of these extensions during the past few weeks is therefore cause for considerable alarm amongst Chrome users.
According to cybersecurity company Proofpoint, the initial attacks took place in early August – enabling malicious actors to manipulate internet traffic and web-based ads. It now looks as if seven more extensions have fallen into dubious hands – Web Developer, Chrometana, Infinity New Tab, Web Paint, Social Fixer, plus both Touch and Betternet VPNs. This follows the earlier annexation of the Copyfish Chrome Extension via a phishing scheme, which the hackers have used to distribute spam.
While this most recent issues has now been resolved, while the latest attacks were in full swing, hackers were able to hijack traffic and divert users to dodgy sites. They apparently also harvested credentials from Cloudfare, the content delivery service, which would give them the capability to launch new waves of nefarious activity in the future.
Perhaps our constant drive for higher productivity and better efficiency with the help of applications is to blame. It certainly gives hackers new attack vector. It all just goes to show – anything you download, even from reputable sources, should be viewed with caution.