How a Chrome Extension Could Harm Your Privacy- Except when they contain viruses that undermine your computer’s security, Chrome extensions are valuable tools that enhance your surfing experience. The consequences of this can be devastating. Consider all of the sensitive information stored in your browser for a second. Passwords, online workspace/social networking accounts, and credit card information are all at risk.
Even a seemingly harmless Chrome theme can contain spyware (this has happened to us!). The security of the Chrome web store isn’t as reliable as you may think, and it’s subject to some lax regulation. As a frequent Internet user, you must be aware of the security risks associated with downloading extensions. Let’s look at how to identify whether you’ve been hacked by an extension and how to prevent it from happening again:
Keep an eye out for the Warning Signs
Is your browser acting strangely? Don’t dismiss it; it’s possible that the extension you installed recently is to blame. Keep an eye out for the following signs that your Google Chrome has been compromised:
- The default search engine is different
For most of us, searching for answers on Google is nearly second nature. We open Chrome, input our query, and wait for the results list to appear.
When you search for something, pay attention to what your browser URL does. Is it sending you to any unusual websites? Even if it eventually redirects you to Google, this is still a cause for concern. Your browser may have been hijacked by an extension that is attempting to redirect traffic to a different search engine.
The idea is that if Chrome directs you somewhere other than Google (and you haven’t told it to), you should believe you’ve been hacked.
- Your social media accounts are liking strange posts
You could notice something weird in your history the next time you access your Facebook or YouTube account. It’s possible that your account likes spam or click-bait posts, or that you’ve subscribed to multiple new channels.
Any activity on your social media account that you haven’t allowed indicates that your account is being accessed by someone else.
- You keep seeing strange ads
Are the advertisements you’re seeing becoming increasingly inappropriate? You haven’t visited any dubious websites, but you continue to receive adverts that are both risqué and harmful. This could indicate that your advertising have been hijacked by an extension.
If you see any of these indicators when using Chrome, it’s possible that an extension has hijacked your browser.
What Can You Do if You Get Hacked?
You’ve discovered that your browser isn’t acting normally. The challenge is, how can you reclaim control and pinpoint the problem?
- Scan for security breaches
You can enter your email address on this website to see if it’s been leaked in any data breaches. It will even tell you where the data breach originated. This is an effective method for identifying dangers.
Schedule a Dark Web and External Security Scan to take it a step farther. This checks to see if your information is available on the Dark Web or if your computer has any unsecured access ports.
These scans and data-breach checks go a long way toward preventing viruses from infecting your machine.
- Change all your passwords
We’ve all experienced how inconvenient it is to change your password. Prepare to enter the incorrect one for the next few weeks as you attempt to break the habit. However, adding extra security to your password (such as special characters, capitalization, and avoiding the most common passwords) is an excellent way to avoid security difficulties.
The better your password is, the longer it is. Increase your security by asking security questions that only you know the solution to.
- Delete the extension!
This should be your primary concern. You must determine which extension is causing the issue and remove it immediately. It can be noticeable in some cases, such as when you downloaded an extension the day prior and have already observed odd things with your browser. But what if you get ten new extensions in one day and can’t figure out who’s to blame?
To figure out which extension is causing the issue, follow the process of elimination. Delete your extensions one by one until the issue is resolved. After you’ve identified the malicious extension, you can reinstall the ones that weren’t the issue. You can also use a malware scanner, such as this one, to detect the virus.
After you’ve removed the extension, you might be asking how you might avoid harmful extensions in the future.
How to Protect Your Browser against Hacked Chrome Extensions
The solution isn’t to never download extensions because they provide useful functionality to your browser. What you need to do is be a little more wary of the extensions you download.
Fortunately, there are a few tools that can assist you in distinguishing between safe and malware-infected extensions:
- View the source code of the extension
With this extension installed, you’ll be able to read the source code of other extensions with a single click.
You might be able to identify anything out of place if you read the extension’s code. Is it executing several scripts? Is there any installation software included? Are there any phrases that you find unusual?
- Be skeptical of what permissions you allow
You must give an extension permission to access your information whenever you download it. It may also ask for permission to perform some functions in your browser. Be cautious about what you give the extension permission to access.
Also, double-check that the permissions correspond to what the extension is supposed to achieve. An extension that modifies your Chrome home screen shouldn’t have access to data on your favourite websites.
If you’re unsure about granting rights to the extension, it’s probably preferable to remove it entirely.
- Install Password Checkup
You might be thinking, “Should I really install an extension to protect myself from hacked extensions?” Although it may appear suspicious, Google itself provides a tool called Password Checkup. It matches your login credentials against any username or password that has been disclosed as a result of a data breach. It will recommend that you alter it if it detects a match. After all, you don’t want to use a password that hackers can easily figure out!
The number of hacked extensions accessible on the Google Chrome Web Store is startling. After all, we’re talking about Google here. However, it doesn’t appear like the firm plans to add any more extension verification anytime soon, putting the onus on users to spot potentially dangerous downloads.
We’re more reliant on technology than ever before now that many of us work from home. On the Chrome Web Store, you’ll find a variety of handy tools to improve your browsing experience and save time on time-consuming tasks. However, just because you can download an extension doesn’t imply it’s safe.
Many of us are aware that downloading random files from the Internet is not a good idea. However, not everyone is aware that Chrome Web Store extensions might be just as harmful. We hope that this information will assist you in remaining virus-free.