Tech giant Google has removed more than 500 Extensions from Chrome Web Store over ad fraud. All these extensions were linked to a large fraudulent advertising network that used to add adware to the web browsers to get access to the browsing data while trapping the users in a redirected cycle of links.
In some cases, the ads used to redirect the users to some big companies’ sites such as Dell and Best Buy, but most of them redirected the users to sites that contains the risk of malware downloading and phishing. Also, the volume of the redirects was also too high which also increased the risk contained by these extensions.
A Google employee said, “We keep on looking for the extensions on daily bases that use similar techniques, code, and behaviours and remove those extensions from the Web store if they violate our policies“.
As per the reports, the extensions that are removed were shows as products to the users that could offer advertising services. But instead of this, these extensions were found to be part of a large network that also include some copycat plugins. The study showed that 1.7 million users were affected by just 70 of these extensions, which means that the total effect of all that 500 such extensions involved in the ad fraud was much larger than the expected.
These malicious extensions were used as a tool to keep the user busy and hide the underlying ad mechanism. All this made easier for them to get easily connected to the web browser and extract the browsing data. During the research, it was found that the fraud network through which the extensions are linked has been running for the past couple of years. The main function of these malicious Chrome extensions involved ad fraud while engaging the user in a stream of redirects.
Also, these redirect streams were used to make users reach a phishing-prone webpage and websites from where this malware could be downloaded.
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