Safe Internet Browsing: What Is A Browser Extension?
Summary: This 2-3 minute blog defines browser extensions and discusses how millions of people use malicious browser extensions unwittingly. Contact GEEKAID Computer and Network Support, the IT experts, at https://www.geek-aid.com/ to find out the browser protection options available.
What Is A Browser Extension?
Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Browser_extension defines a browser extension as “a small software module for customizing a web browser. Browsers typically allow a variety of extensions, including user interface modifications, cookie management, ad blocking, and the custom scripting and styling of web pages.” Browser extensions were developed to add more functionality to the browsing experience. However, all new IT-related things are followed by cybercriminals ready to exploit new vulnerabilities. Malicious browser extensions are widespread. Many malicious extensions are relatively benign, even unnoticeable. It is estimated that recently 70% of malicious browser extensions are designed to target users with advertisements or spy on user browser activities. Furthermore, the pandemic spawned a dramatic increase in online purchases, which in turn launched an adware competition to get the attention of prospective shoppers. Fortunately, there are methods for ramping up your browser protection.
Browser Protection is the addition of cyber security to web browsers to help protect networked computer systems from being attacked and having data breached. Before adding extensions, it is critical to know if they are from trusted sources. For example, Chrome Extension Security offers a comprehensive guide to evaluating different types of “permissions” associated with Chrome extensions. Many extensions require permissions to make changes on a device or web page for them to run:
- Site Permissions – Site permissions require the extension to be explicit about which websites it is permitted to view or modify if granted permission.
- Device Permissions – An extension might also ask for permissions to access what it needs on a device, such as access to storage, a USB port, etc.
Recently, the three biggest browser extension threats have been:
- WebSearch – WebSearch captures users' browsing activities to create a profile for the online offerings they frequent. It then promotes links to its marketing partners to make money from the malicious browser extensions.
- WebSearch also changes the browser's home page to direct users to affiliated links, thus generating more clicks and revenue.
- AddScript – AddScript runs in the background. Users are lured into using the extensions to gain additional functionality, while the extensions that carry them offer the function of downloading videos from the web.
- Also, AddScript adds marketing affiliate cookies to the host, creating another revenue stream for the cybercriminal.
Unfortunately for users, a boon for hackers is that most users do not think about or understand the risks involved when using browser extensions. To be sure that your browser, network and all your devices have sufficient security, it is wise to consult IT experts
Unfortunately, many individuals and small to midsized business users are under the misconception that off-the-shelf virus protection is enough. Whether you work from a company office or remotely from home, you might not be aware of all the new threats to your computer, network and other devices without the assistance of a professional IT Consulting Service. IT professionals can assess your specific needs and all aspects of your smart devices, computer systems and networks, recommend solutions and keep your system running smoothly from the start. A modest investment in professional IT assistance is a smart way to protect and get the most out of computers, networks, mobile devices and all your data while freeing up your time to concentrate on more substantial business or personal tasks.
GEEK-AID® Computer and Network Support provides world-class IT consulting services and specializes in customized network design and support, computer repairs, installations, updates, and maintenance for homes and small to midsized businesses. GEEK-AID®'s team of experts is comprised of top specialists in different areas of IT services, serving clients on-site and remotely for Macs, PCs and all your connected devices, including new ones that are part of the ever-expanding IoT. They can answer all your IT questions, from “Do I have malicious browser extensions?” to “When do I need to upgrade my computer hardware?” More importantly, when your home or business computer and other devices go down, they will perform on-site computer repairs if required. And the GEEK-AID® team doesn't clock out at five o'clock on Friday. Instead, they are available to you 24/7, remotely or in person, to ensure your computers, network and data stay up-to-date, healthy and secure. As your business grows, expands its network and adds more devices such as smart controls, smart devices, wireless access and remote access, your network's cybercrime vulnerability and need for cyber security will grow, too. So, in addition to maintaining the hardware, software and security, employee training and regular IT support should be ongoing, including learning how to access the most helpful features your connected devices can offer.
Call (877) GEEK-AID (877-433-5243) to discuss all the ways they can maintain and secure all your devices and computer systems.