The Nigerian Communications Commission’s Computer Security Incident Response Team (NCC-CSIRT) has drawn the attention of Nigerians after it identified five malicious Google Chrome Extensions that surreptitiously track online browser’s activities and steal their data. This was contained in a statement signed by Reuben Muoka, Director, Public Affairs of the Commission. The statement said the five malicious extensions which the McAfee Mobile Research Team earlier discovered are Netflix Party with 800,000 downloads, Netflix Party 2 with 300,000 downloads, Full Page Screenshot Capture Screenshotting with 200,000 downloads, FlipShope Price Tracker Extension with 80,000 downloads, and AutoBuy Flash Sales with 20,000 downloads.
While giving figures the NCC-CSIRT explained that the five google chrome extensions identified have a high probability and damage potential. It stated that it has been downloaded more than 1.4 million times and serve as access to steal users’ data. The telecom sector-focused cybersecurity protection team alerted telecom consumers to be cautious when installing any browser extension.
“The users of these chrome extensions are unaware of their invasive functionality and privacy risk. Malicious extensions monitor victims’ visits to e-commerce websites and modify the visitor’s cookie to appear as if they came through a referrer link. Consequently, the extensions’ developers get an affiliate fee for any purchases at electronic shops,” the statement said.
Continuing, the statement noted that, although the google team took out several browser extensions from its Chrome Web Store, keeping malicious extensions out may be difficult. The NCC-CSIRT, therefore, recommended that telecom consumers observe caution when installing any browser extension.
“These include removing all listed extensions from their chrome browser manually. Internet users are to pay close attention to the promptings from their browser extensions, such as the permission to run on any website visited and the data requested before installing it. Although some extensions are seemingly legit, due to the high number of user downloads, these hazardous add-ons make it imperative for users to ascertain the authenticity of extensions they access.” the advisory stated.
Google Chrome extensions are software programmes that can be installed into Chrome to improve and personalize experience and the browser’s functionality. This includes adding new features to Chrome or modifying the existing behaviour of the program itself to make it more convenient for the user. They serve many purposes such as block ads, integration with password managers, and sourcing coupons as items sent to a shopping cart.