37000 users downloaded a fake Adblock Plus extension for Chrome

Yolanda Curtis
October 10, 2017

A fraudulent developer was able to bypass Google's vetting process and distributed a knock off Adblock Plus, but the extent of its damages remains unknown. However, it's quite odd that it got past Google's verification process, especially when considering that AdBlock is a well know service with over 10 million users and already has an extension in the Chrome Web Store. Although it can be hard if not impossible to spot every one, it's clear that the company has to upgrade its verification process to further minimize the chances of malicious software making its way to the Chrome Web Store.

So, here's what happened: a developer whose name is "Adblock Plus" created an extension that looks exactly like the real Adblock Plus extension, complete with the logo and other visual elements. Google has taken down the phony listing after SwiftOnSecurity tweeted about it and put the company on blast, but by then, it has already been up long enough to fool 37,000 people.

According to one of the reviews on the fraudulent Adblock Plus extension, following its installation, the browser extension started to show a number of invasive ads within Google Chrome.

Back in 2015, Google went on to block Windows and Mac users from downloading Chrome extensions not backed by the Chrome Web store. Such a move was meant to prevent users from downloading malicious software on their computers. This automated process has allowed Google to quickly build up its Web Store, which has surpassed Mozilla's add-ons repository to become the biggest browser extensions portal among all browsers.

It isn't yet clear if the fake extension had malicious intentions, but Google's failure to spot it is extremely concerning regardless, both for users and developers.

Have you downloaded Adblock Plus recently?

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