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Online Security: Addressing the Dangers of Browser Extensions

ITM Tech Addressing the Dangers of Browser Extensions

Browser extensions have become as common as mobile apps. People tend to download many and use few. There are over 176,000 browser extensions available on Google Chrome alone. Often hailed for their convenience and versatility, these extensions offer users extra functionalities and customisation options. From ad blockers and password managers to productivity tools, the variety of choice in 2024 is vast. While browser extensions can enhance the browsing experience, they can also pose a danger to online security and privacy, introducing inherent security risks.

In this blog, ITM Tech will unravel the risks associated with browser extensions and provide tips on how you can help to mitigate them.

Key Risks Posed by Browser Extensions


Privacy Intrusions

Many browser extensions request broad permissions. If abused, they can compromise user privacy. Some of these include accessing browsing history and monitoring keystrokes. Certain extensions may overstep their intended functionality. This can lead to the unauthorised collection of sensitive information. Users often grant permissions without thoroughly reviewing them. This causes them to unintentionally expose personal data to potential misuse.

Malicious Intent

There are many extensions developed with genuine intentions. But some extensions harbour malicious code. This code can exploit users for financial gain or other malicious purposes. These rogue extensions may inject unwanted ads. As well as track user activities or even deliver malware. These extensions often use deceptive practices, which make it challenging for users to distinguish between legitimate and malicious software.

Outdated or Abandoned Extensions

Extensions that are no longer maintained or updated pose a significant security risk. Outdated extensions may have unresolved vulnerabilities. Hackers can exploit them to gain access to a user’s browser. As well as potentially compromising their entire system. Without regular updates and security patches, these extensions become a liability.

Phishing and Social Engineering

Some malicious extensions engage in phishing attacks. As well as social engineering tactics. These attacks can trick users into divulging sensitive information. This can include creating fake login pages or mimicking popular websites. These tactics lead unsuspecting users to unknowingly provide sensitive data, like usernames, passwords, or other confidential details.

Browser Performance Impact

Certain extensions can significantly impact browser performance. This can happen due to being poorly coded or laden with unnecessary features. This results in a subpar user experience. It can also lead to system slowdowns, crashes, or freezing. An extension’s perceived benefits may attract users, but end up unwittingly sacrificing performance.

Mitigating the Risks: Best Practices for Browser Extension Security


1. Stick to Official Marketplaces

Download extensions only from official browser marketplaces. Such as those connected with the browser developer (Google, Microsoft, etc.). These platforms have stringent security measures in place. This reduces the likelihood of encountering malicious software.

2. Review Permissions Carefully

Before installing any extension, carefully review the permissions it requests. Be cautious if an extension seeks access to unusual data. Such as data that seems unrelated to its core functionality. Limit permissions to only what is essential for the extension’s intended purpose.

3. Keep Extensions Updated

Regularly update your browser extensions. This ensures you have the latest security patches. Developers release updates to address vulnerabilities and enhance security. If an extension is no longer receiving updates, consider finding an alternative.

4. Limit the Number of Extensions

It’s tempting to install several extensions for various functionalities, but each added extension increases the potential dangers. Only install extensions that are genuinely needed. Regularly review and uninstall those that are no longer in use.

5. Use Security Software

Use reputable antivirus and anti-malware software. This adds an extra layer of protection against malicious extensions. These tools can detect and remove threats that may bypass browser security.

6. Educate Yourself

Stay informed about the potential risks associated with browser extensions. Understand the permissions you grant. Be aware of the types of threats that can arise from malicious software. Education is a powerful tool in mitigating security risks.

7. Report Suspicious Extensions

If you encounter a suspicious extension, report it. You should report it to the official browser extension marketplace and your IT  Managed Service Provider. 

Does your business need help with Cyber Security?

Browser extensions are just one way you or your employees can put a network at risk. Cyber security is multi-layered. It includes protections from phishing, endpoint threats, and more. Don’t stay in the dark about your defences. We can assess your business’s cyber security measures and provide proactive steps for better protection.

Have a chat with ITM Tech today. You can call us on 045 409984, or reach us here on our website.