Which extensions are spying on you.

Google ChromeLate last week the internet erupted with panic when it found out that some Chrome Extensions were being sold and injected with malware.  As I am, and many of you are, a Chrome user, I started looking for a list which extensions are spying on me.  But we’ll get to that in a bit.  First, for the non-technical people, here is what’s going on.

Chrome, like firefox, has the ability to be modified by the use of extensions.  However, Google, in their attempt to be super user friendly, designed Chrome (in it’s latest versions) to automatically update these extensions periodically without bothering to tell the user.  For most people, this is great.  Less friction between the user and the browser.

The second problem is that, and I’m not 100% sure as I’m not an extension developer, it’s fairly easy to insert whatever you want into an extension, including tracking, adware, malware and whatever.  Finally, as these extensions work on the browser level, they have the ability to change the page you are looking at.  So let’s say you are looking at dietrichduke.com and you want to read the article about my trip down Arkansas Highway 7 recently.  Well, its possible that one of these ‘infected’ extensions could change that link and point me somewhere else, like advertiser.com/arkansasdeals7 or something like that.

So now you can see where the problem is.  That seemingly harmless Chrome Extension to check for duplicate bookmarks may be doing more harm to you than good.  Luckily, there are people out there dedicated to keeping the rest of us safe.  How-To Geek has compiled a list of known extensions that inject adware or tracking into your browser.  I’ve listed a couple here for convenience, but you should really check out the list (link at the bottom of the page).

Alternatively, you can also download Chrome Shield which will notify you of any problems with extensions.  I’m not sure where it gets it’s list, but it did miss one of the extensions How-To Geek listed, so I’m keeping an eye on both for a little while, which is what I recommend you do.

For those of you who need a little extra help with removing and managing Chrome extensions, Google Help is a great place to learn