The Nigerian Communications Commission’s Computer Security Incident Response Team (NCC-CSIRT) has identified five malicious Google Chrome extensions that surreptitiously track online browsers’ activities and steal their data.
According to NCC-CSIRT, the five malicious extensions discovered by the McAfee Mobile Research Team 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.
The NCC-CSIRT said the five extensions identified have a high probability and damage potential and have 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 advisory said.
In addition, the advisory stated that, although the Google team removed several browser extensions from its Chrome Web Store, keeping malicious extensions out may be difficult. The NCC-CSIRT, thus, 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.
A statement by the NCC director of public affairs, Reuben Muoka explained that Google Chrome extensions are software programmes that can be installed into Chrome, to change the browser’s functionality. This includes adding new features to Chrome or modifying the existing behaviour of the programme to make it more convenient for the user. They block adverts, integrate with password managers and source coupons as items sent to a shopping cart.
The Computer Security Incident Response Team (CSIRT) is the telecom sector’s cyber security incidence centre set up by the NCC to focus on incidents in the telecom sector and as they may affect telecom consumers and citizens.