Google may be about to kill off your ad blocker − but it’s for your own good

Five popular ad blockers that are used more than 20 million Google Chrome users have been found to be malicious.

The Chrome extensions contain hidden code that feeds information about the sites you visit to their creators, and allows them to gain control of your browser.

One of the extensions, called AdRemover for Google Chrome, had more than 10 million downloads by the time it was reported to Google by AdGuard. So if your ad blocker suddenly vanishes in the next couple of days, this might be why.

“Basically, this is a botnet composed of browsers infected with the fake adblock extensions. The browser will do whatever the command center server owner orders it to do,” AdGuard wrote in a blog post.

The company found four additional malicious ad blockers in the Chrome Store, called uBlock Plus (more than 8 million users), Adblock Pro (more than 2 million users), HD for YouTube (more than 400,000 users), and Webutation (more than 30,000 users).

“It’s been a while since different ‘authors’ started spamming Chrome WebStore with lazy clones of popular ad blockers (with a few lines of their code on top of them),” wrote AdGuard.

However, attackers appear to be getting better at luring in as many victims as possible. “Instead of using tricky names they now spam keywords in the extension description trying to make to the top search results,” AdGuard continued. “Apparently, being in the top is enough to gain trust of casual users.”

Before you add an extension, it’s important to find out who’s behind it, regardless of whether or not it sits near the top of the rankings.

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