Receive an alert when a browser extension may become malicious

Receive an alert when a browser extension may become malicious

The extensions They allow you to add even more new features to your Web browser, sometimes expanding its features in a very significant way. Extension developers continually receive purchase offers from other parties: the buyers’ goal is to intercept the large user base that some extensions can boast.

There are many cases of extensions sold and suddenly becoming dangerous, because the new owner has, for example, decided to add code useful for “measuring” user behavior or, even, features that simulate the behavior of one spyware.

The software engineer Matt Frisbie had already shown, in February 2023, that it is possible to create extensions capable of stealing all the data of the users who install them. And this also despite the limitations introduced by Google with the new one Manifest v3.

Manifest V3 is the latest version of the specification used to describe how extensions for browsers like Chrome work. With the introduction of Manifest V3, Google has made several changes to the way extensions can interact with the browser, with the aim of improving the security and performance of extensions.

How to get notified when an extension changes ownership

Today it is Frisbie himself who presents an interesting open source project, which is in turn available in the form of an extension that can be downloaded from the Chrome Web Store. Baptized “Under New Management“, the software’s primary objective is to monitor extensions installed in Chrome and browsers derived from Chromium, alerting the user whenever one or more extensions “change hands”.

The code of “Under New Management” is publicly available and Frisbie’s activity is in itself a guarantee of the legitimacy and absolute goodness of the extension. Which proves to be decidedly useful for implementing any countermeasures, for example the uninstalling extensions whose ownership had passed from one person to another.

In the event that variations are detected, an indication clearly shows the details of the previous developer and the references of the new one.

Browser extensions: change of ownership

Of course, the development of an extension that passes from one subject to another may not necessarily indicate a problem but it is still something that cannot and should not be underestimated. Frisbie highlights that the browser itself should highlight these changes and hopes that things may change in the near future. To give users a way to hire free decisions e informed.

Opening image credit: – Fuad Afandi

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