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Over one million Google Chrome users could be at risk of having their private browsing history spied on by hackers. That’s according to the security team at McAfee who say they have discovered five malicious Chrome extensions that are actively monitoring website data in a bid to make money for unscrupulous cyber criminals.
The extensions, which include a service called Netflix Party, are able to install secret spyware which can then be used to see exactly which sites are being viewed on a PC.
The sole aim of this hack is to track when a user visits a site that offers e-commerce transactions, such as Amazon, with the hackers then adding code to make it appear that their website has pushed the user to a shopping page.
Most online retailers pay publishers a small fee if readers are directed to a certain shopping page and end up buying a product. The extensions in question are able to do this automatically without the user never knowing that they are actually funding hackers.
To make matters worse, McAfee says that the extensions appear to work as promised which means those that have downloaded them won’t think that anything is wrong.
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Of course, hackers making money from online stores isn’t directly affecting consumers but it’s still worrying that website data is being monitored.
McAfee also warns that personal website data that is then sent to unknown servers is a huge privacy risk and not one to ignore.
The five extensions include: Netflix Party 800,000 downloads • Netflix Party 2 – 300,000 downloads • FlipShope – Price Tracker Extension 80,000 • Full Page Screenshot Capture 200,000 • AutoBuy Flash Sales 20,000
If you think you may have downloaded one of these extensions it might be worth removing it as soon as possible.
McAfee also advises customers to be cautious when installing Chrome extensions and pay attention to the permissions that they are requesting.
The permissions will be shown by Chrome before the installation of the extension. Customers should take extra steps to verify the authenticity if the extension is requesting permissions that enable it to run on every website they visit.
If you think you’ve downloaded one of these extensions then here’s how to remove it.
To uninstall an extension
• To the right of your address bar, look for the extension’s icon. Right-click the icon and select Remove from Chrome.
If you don’t see the extension’s icon:
• On your computer, open Chrome.
• At the top right, click More More and then More tools and then Extensions.
• On the extension that you want to remove, click Remove.
• Confirm by clicking Remove.
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