Many Browser Extensions Have Become Adware or Malware. Check Yours Now
This week, Ars Technica and How-To Geek released some pretty startling news: a lot of browser extensions are either injecting
As Ars notes
, a lot of these extensions started as good, honest, independent extensions that were bought by
From the How-To Geek's explainer:
These extensions are "allowed" to engage in this tracking behavior because they "disclose" it on their description page, or at some point in their options panel. For instance, the HoverZoom extension , which has a million users, says the following in their description page, at the very bottom:
"Hover Zoom uses anonymous usage statistics. This can be disabled in the options page without losing any features as well. By leaving this feature enabled, the user authorize the collection, transfer and use of anonymous usage data, including but not limited to transferring to third parties."
Where exactly in this description does it explain that they are going to track every single page you visit and send the URL back to a third party, which pays them for your data? In fact, they claim everywhere that they are sponsored through affiliate links, completely ignoring the fact that they are spying on you. Yeah, that's right, they are also injecting ads all over the place. But which do you care more about, an ad showing up on a page, or them taking your entire browsing history and sending it back to somebody else?
To sum up, a million people are being spied on by this one extension alone. And that's just one of these extensions - there are a lot more doing the same thing.
The How-To Geek is
putting together a solid list
of extensions that practice this behavior, including many that we've featured on Lifehacker (before they became adware), including
, and tons of others.
I highly recommend reading the full article over at How-To Geek. It has a lot more detail on what happened and how to investigate the extensions you have installed. In addition, you should check out their list and see if you're using any of the extensions on it.
Warning: Your Browser Extensions Are Spying On You | How-To Geek
List of Tracking Extensions | How-To Geek Discussions