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Data Leak Warning Issued To Millions Of Google Chrome And Firefox Users




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Sensitive data belonging to millions of Google Chrome and Firefox users have been released by rogue browser extensions, a new report shows.

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9659003] Google Chrome and Firefox are likely to use extensions such as ad blockers to help make browsing more convenient and secure, but these are always safe, as an independent security researcher can testify: He discovered eight browser extensions used by around 4 million Firefox and Chrome users were harvesting data.

The extensions collected people's data through capturing titles and URLs, or web addresses, every time a user clicked on a page. including sensitive information such as medical records and credit card information, researcher Sam Jadali's report first shared with the Washington Post & nbsp; found.

Who is affecte d?

The "unprecedented data collection" impacts millions of individuals as well as many Fortune 500 corporations, according to Jadali. The report says the leak primarily impacts Chrome and Firefox users with one of eight invasive extensions. However, other Chromium-based browsers such as Opera that can run Chrome extensions are also impacted.

Many of the affected extensions were apps used by hundreds of thousands and in some cases, millions of people, including HoverZoom, SpeakIt !, and FairShare Unlock. The full list is available in Jadali's full report – which is very aptly Dataspii .

Thankfully, the extensions have now been removed from or disabled in people's browsers by Google and Firefox owner Mozilla and are no longer available for download.

What data was available?

Whether you are an individual or a business, the data available was pretty sensitive. & nbsp; Personal data made accessible by DataSpii included: Tax returns, GPS location, cloud services and data, file attachments, credit card information, genetic profiles and online shopping history.

The report says around 50 businesses are also affected. Corporate data made accessible by DataSpii was extremely worrying. It included: real-time activity of employees, private LAN network structure, partial page content including hyperlinks embedded on a LAN website, API keys, proprietary source code, firewall access codes and zero-day vulnerabilities.

What are Google Chrome and Firefox doing?

I contacted Google and Mozilla for a response. Both confirmed that the extensions violated their policies. A Google spokesperson sends the following statement: “We want Chrome extensions to be safe and privacy-preserving, and detection policy violations are essential to that effort.”

changes to how extensions work ] "and will change this behavior" and "new policies that improve user privacy ."

The changes to extensions, manifested by Manifest V3 will see many ad blockers break in Chrome which has angered many people . However, it seems that the changes can help improve security when Google has argued.

"My understanding of Manifest V3 is that it tries to limit the capabilities of extensions via controlled APIs," says security researcher Sean Wright. “This is something that I think is a good move, if done correctly and for the right reasons.”

A Mozilla spokesperson says the firm has blocked all of the extensions found to be in violation of its policies. "19459016] & nbsp; and as such have created a list of Recommended Extensions & nbsp; which are editorially vetted, security-reviewed, and monitored for safety and privacy by Mozilla, "the spokesperson says.

Mozilla is also trying to make it easier to report problematic extensions and it says “will continue to invest in security mitigations and product features that make users more aware of the risks that come with extension use.”

Extension security: What to do

If you are affected by the issue and still have extensions, you might want to remove them yourself, and change your password as a precaution. In addition, says Jadali: “If you access services through an API via a URL, you may consider changing your API keys. " He details the steps to remove the extensions:

] Chrome: Manually enter the following URL in your browser: chrome: // extensions

On the following page click " remove " next to the extension in question.

] Firefox : Manually enter the following URL in your browser: about: addons

On the following page click " remove " next to the extension in question.

Avoid being caught out again

There are also some general steps you can take to avoid being caught out in the future. Before installing any third-party extension, Mozilla recommends following these safety tips . & Nbsp;

For example, if you are installing an extension from a website other than addons.mozilla.org (AMO), you should verify the integrity of the source

Meanwhile, you should be aware of the permissions you grant to extensions. "Extensions are pieces of software that run within your browser and most cases have access to the data which loads in there," says Wright. He says “it's wise to do your homework” and “try to make sure that the extension is legitimate and done for the right purposes – not created to slurp up your data.”

Another thing to consider, says Wright is that extensions can potentially access data from pages loaded in your browser, and modify it. & nbsp; “Attackers can modify legitimate extensions to inject their payload into sites,” he warns. "To me, this is perhaps more alarming."

Sensitive data belonging to millions of Google Chrome and Firefox users have been released by rogue browser extensions, a new report shows.

Getty

Google Chrome and Firefox are likely to use extensions such as ad blockers to help make browsing more convenient and secure, but these are always safe, as an independent security researcher can testify: He discovered eight browser extensions used at around 4 million Firefox and Chrome users were harvesting data.

The extensions collected people's data through capturing titles and URLs, or web addresses, every time a user clicked on a page. browser, sensitive information such as medical records and credit card information, researcher Sam Jadali's report first shared with the Washington Post found.

Who is affected?

The "unprecedented data collection" impacts millions of individuals as well as many Fortune 500 corporations, according to Jadali. The report says the leak primarily impacts Chrome and Firefox users with one of eight invasive extensions. However, other Chromium-based browsers such as Opera that can run Chrome extensions are also impacted.

 

Many of the affected extensions were apps used by hundreds of thousands and in some cases, millions of people, including HoverZoom, SpeakIt !, and FairShare Unlock. The full list is available in Jadali's full report – which is titled aptly Dataspii.

Thankfully, the extensions have now been removed from or disabled in people's browsers by Google and Firefox owner Mozilla and are no longer available for download.

What data was available?

Whether you are an individual or a business, the data available was pretty sensitive. Personal data made accessible by DataSpii included: Tax returns, GPS location, cloud services and data, file attachments, credit card information, genetic profiles and online shopping history

The report says around 50 businesses are also affected. Corporate data made accessible by DataSpii was extremely worrying. It included: real-time activity of employees, private LAN network structure, partial page content including hyperlinks embedded on a LAN website, API keys, proprietary source code, firewall access codes and zero-day vulnerabilities.

What are Google Chrome and Firefox doing?

I contacted Google and Mozilla for a response. Both confirmed that the extensions violated their policies. A Google spokesperson sends the following statement: “We want Chrome extensions to be safe and privacy-preserving, and detection policy violations is essential to that effort.”

The spokesperson highlighted announced technical changes to how extensions work that "will mitigate or prevent this behavior ”, and“ new policies that improve user privacy. ”

The changes to extensions, as manifest V3 will see many ad blockers break in Chrome, which has angered many people. However, it seems that the changes can help improve security when Google has argued.

"My understanding of Manifest V3 is that it tries to limit the capabilities of extensions via controlled APIs," says security researcher Sean Wright. “This is something that I think is a good move, if done correctly and for the right reasons.”

A Mozilla spokesperson says the firm has blocked all of the extensions found to be in violation of its policies. "We are aware of the changing security landscape and as such have created a list of Recommended Extensions which are editorially vetted, security-reviewed, and monitored for safety and privacy by Mozilla," the spokesperson says.

Mozilla is also trying to make it easier to report problematic extensions and it says “will continue to invest in security mitigations and product features that make users more aware of the risks that come with extension use.”

Extension security: What to do

If you are affected by the issue and still have extensions, you might want to remove them yourself, and change your password as a precaution. In addition, says Jadali: “If you access services through an API via a URL, you may consider changing your API keys.”

He details the steps to remove the extensions:

 

Chrome: Manually enter the following URL in your browser: chrome: // extensions

On the following page, click "remove" next to the extension in question.

Firefox ]: Manually enter the following URL into your browser: about: addons

On the following page, click "remove" next to the extension in question.

Avoid being caught out again

There are also some general steps you can take to avoid being caught out in the future. Before installing any third-party extension, Mozilla recommends following these safety tips.

For example, if you are installing an extension from a website other than addons.mozilla.org (AMO), you should verify the integrity of the source

Meanwhile, you should be aware of the permissions you grant to extensions. "Extensions are pieces of software that run within your browser and most cases have access to the data which loads in there," says Wright. He says “it's wise to do your homework” and “try to make sure that the extension is legitimate and done for the right purposes – not created to slurp up your data.”

Another thing to consider, says Wright is that extensions can potentially access data from pages loaded in your browser, and modify it. "Attackers can modify legitimate extensions to inject their payload into sites," he warns. "To me, this is perhaps more alarming."


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