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January 20, 2014

Two Chrome Extensions Laced With Adware, Removed From Chrome Store

Two Chrome browser extensions were removed from its web store this week after the company noticed the add-ons were giving users grief in the form of spam ads.

Chrome’s “Tweet This Page” and “Add to Feedly” extensions were reportedly causing some annoying ad issues for users that ultimately violated the company’s terms of service.

Extensions are the small bits of code users can add to their browser to perform simple tasks. Chrome’s policies state that extensions cannot be used to insert advertising on more than one part of a page.

In this case, users of the extensions were targeted by Adware that caused ads to pop up in multiple places – even the Google homepage.

The good news is that the neither of the extensions are that popular, with less than 100,000 users each. Regardless, the annoyance caused a stir on Chrome’s message boards.

Both extensions, reports PC World, were sold by their original developers to third-parties who updated the extensions and added Malware to inject ads into every page visited by the user.

While it’s not uncommon for developers to be approached by third-parties interested in buying their Chrome extensions, it can cause problems for unsuspecting users.

Google doesn’t review updates to Chrome add-ons, reports the Wall Street Journal, and users who already have the extension installed receive updates automatically.

The issue isn’t exclusive to Chrome. Firefox and Internet Explorer also feature extensions that can be updated and changed.

On Monday, the developer of Chrome extension “Honey” offered to answer questions for concerned users wanting to know more about the sale of extensions.

Third-party sales “usually start with an e-mail and progress to a call. I’ve spoken to a few on the phone and they sound just like normal people proposing a business deal,” said Honey’s developer under the username Gemusan on popular site Reddit. “I’m sure they’ve justified what they do in their own mind so they don’t sound shifty or unsure at all. Mental gymnastics is an amazing thing.”

The buyer offered to pay a hefty six-figure sum per month in exchange for the extension, but was turned down.



Megan Abraham is a staff writer for SiteProNews.