Google removes two Chrome extensions, citing malware

20 Jan 2014

The ‘Add to Feedly’ and ‘Tweet this page’ extensions have been pulled from Google Chrome after users of the extensions found they were being attacked with malware when using them.

Used by more than 100,000 people, the two extensions have caused considerable anger among the community that uses them, as users found their pages suddenly spammed with adverts which goes against Google’s new terms of service laid down last December.

The new conditions prohibit extension developers from taking over pages with toolbars and unsolicited adverts.

According to The Wall Street Journal, the two adverts are two particular examples of extensions which have been approached by malware companies looking to buy the rights to extensions in order to insert their own malware code which will then make certain annoying, and potentially harmful, adverts appear on screen.

This is a growing trend among malware developers, who see the purchasing of extensions for a fee as the easiest way to get their harmful code directly into people’s computers without their knowledge.

A ‘quick buck’ for developers

Chrome extensions, for the sake of ease, automatically update when a newer version is available and do not alert the user.

Creator of the Add to Feedly app, Amit Agarwal, wrote a response to the anger on his blog, detailing how malware companies are anonymously buying up extensions, offering a considerable amount of money for the rights to the extension: “One morning I got an email from someone (I tried Googling her name but it returned no results) asking me if I would be interested in selling the Feedly Chrome extension.

“It was a 4-figure offer for something that had taken an hour to create and I agreed to the deal. I had no clue about the buyer and was also curious to know why would anyone pay this kind of money for such a simple Chrome extension.”

Google has also been criticised in the past week with the launch of its latest version of its Chrome browser. Users noticed a number of problems, including a major change to the scroll bar, which has made scrolling through particular pages impossible.

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic