Programmatic Lunch

37,000 users downloaded a fake Adblock Plus extension for Chrome

Tim Maytom

Chrome users who have recently downloaded an extension to block out advertising may want to double check what's on their computer, after a fake Adblock Plus extension made it through Google's verification process and was available on the official Chrome Web Store.

The extension has now been taken down, but while up, it was listed directly next to the real product created by Adblock Plus, and was downloaded by around 37,000 users, leaving them potentially vulnerable to a variety of cybercrime.

The extension was spotted by cybersecurity expert @SwiftOnSecurity and shared on Twitter, where it was picked up by both Chrome and Adblock Plus. @SwiftOnSecurity called the software "a fake extension by fraudulent developer".

"We've been following this story carefully, and were pleased to see how quickly the false extension was kicked out," said Ben Williams, communications and operations manager at Adblock Plus, in a post addressing the false extension. "It's a bit troubling, of course, that it made it in there in the first place. Because of this we've stayed on top of would-be scammers for years now, so that you can trust what you're getting is actually what you want."

According to reviews for the fake extension, at least one user found themselves being targeted by invasive ads that opened multiple tabs after he installed the software. However, more information on whether the extension contained malware or similar software has not been forthcoming.

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