It sounds counterintuitive, but listen to me. If you are looking for a new browser extension to try out or you want to download one recommended for you, stop using the Chrome Web Store to search it.
While I strongly believe that you, a tech-savvy Lifehacker reader, will not be hit by scam extensions on the Chrome Web Store, AdGuard recently reported that 300 or so fake extensions are responsible for the near success 80 million Chrome users (except for any bot).
While some of these extensions are “bad-sounding extensions that anyone mindful should avoid”;, there are plenty of extensions close enough to the one that sound justified to cause the problem. For example:
- Ad block for YouTube
- Adblocker for YouTube
- AdBlock – Stop advertising on every website
These are all bogus listings that have been removed from the Chrome Web Store, but only because AdGuard could have captured Google’s attention. Until then, these extensive scams have attracted millions of users since their launch. And none of that add-ons on that list, for a profile, are legitimate – an extension on you want Is “Adblock for Youtube, ”AdRemover’s, but how would an expected average person know that?
It feels like we write this kind of story with an alarming frequency. For me it shows Chrome has a fair size issue in the Chrome Web Store. It feels a bit like the Wild West where people can seem to upload any extension that is a malware-filled copy of another extension, or just smallest is a little different, so as not to make Google suspect something out of the ordinary.
However, it is clear that when “Adblocker”, “Ad-block” and “Adblock” all have the same descriptions and icons, there is something clearly up. But if you’re not very tech-savvy, how, again, do you separate malware from must-have extensions?
AdGuard does a great job summarizing the guidance we typically provide:
- “If you’re going to install a browser extension, think again. Maybe you don’t really need it?
- Only install extensions from developers you trust.
- Do not believe what you read in the description of the add-on.
- Reading user reviews won’t help either. Most malicious extensions have great reviews, but they are malicious. “
And I’m happy to see that their last point repeats what I was thinking recently:
- Do not use the Chrome Web Store’s internal search, go directly to links on trusted developer websites.
It seems a bit odd to say that a Google entity is, of all things, unreliable when it comes to search (and instead of using it you should just use … Google). I wouldn’t recommend the average person to use the Chrome Web Store to find anything they don’t already know; Even then, the chances of getting infected with malware are still too great.
I mean, shoot, I just run a simple search for “ad blocker”, like any normal person, and all of these results seem a bit sketchy:
Do not install from the Chrome Web Store unless you are absolutely certain that what you are installing is a legitimate extension. To make sure you’re not tempted or fooled by any other shabby extension, find the extension’s original developer – a website, GitHub, Twitter account, whatever. What – or review sites that you trust and use the links to surname offers to get your extensions from Google. You will be much safer for it.