Region Phoenix MetroCentral Phoenix


Beware of Google Chrome extensions gone bad

Posted at 10:29 PM, Dec 14, 2018
and last updated 2018-12-15 07:52:29-05

PHOENIX — As you scour stores online to finish off that holiday gift list, keep in mind convenience could end up costing you. Web browser extensions are supposed to make your online experience easier and faster, but not all add-ons come with good intentions.

From money savers like "Honey," "Amazon Assistant," and "Ebates," to ad-blockers and desktop designers, the Chrome Web Store is full of just about any browser extension imaginable.

"Add-ons, conveniences that you put onto your browser to make things a little bit easier, less steps," said Robert Darezzo, a computer tech at Data Doctors.

Google Chrome is the most popular web browser in the world and with more than 180,000 extensions to choose from it is a tempting spot for hackers.

"It looks a certain way until installed and operated," Darezzo said. "Then it does something completely different."

If an extension gets hacked or the developer sells the code to a third party the extension's function can start to change.

"Everything you do online is available," Darezzo said. "Whether that's shopping habits, browsing habits, including up to logging into personal stuff. Your emails, your Facebook, social networking, everything is out and available."

Google has steps in place to shut down extensions gone bad, but what can you do to cut down your risk?

First, only download extensions you plan on using, research the developer to see who or what is behind it, and go for ones with high user rates and solid ratings.

"Everything does have a risk, unfortunately, hacking is a pretty big deal these days even with the bigger companies, but those are the ones that are least inclined to have a problem," Darezzo said.