If you visit the official Mozilla AMO -- Addons Mozilla Org -- site right now you may notice an increase in extensions that are pure spam.
The site is abused by spammers currently who flood it with extension listings designed to get users to click on links in the description.
The method that these spammers use is simple: they have copied the Chrome extension Hide My IP and use it as the extension that they upload. They then add a descriptive title, e.g. Movie or TV Show Watch Online, and add links that point to public sites where these movies or shows can be streamed allegedly (the ones I tried led to various domains including Blogspot. or Cbldc).
You may be asked to fill out surveys or perform other actions when you interact with these sites.
You see most of these spam extensions when you sort the extensions by newest on AMO. 47 of the 60 add-ons on the first two pages are spam add-ons right now, only 13 are legitimate extensions for Firefox.
Follow this link to AMO to get the listing. All extensions that I looked at use the same Chrome extension, Hide My IP, and don't even hide the fact in the Manifest file. A quick glance over the file and other files indicates that the extension itself is identical.
I did not install the extension as it may have been manipulated before it was uploaded. Below is a screenshot of a listing that allegedly links to a stream for the Last Jedi movie.
How can this happen? Probably the main reason why you see an increase in spam extensions right now comes from the fact that extensions are not audited manually anymore before they are made available on AMO.
Mozilla changed the process recently to decrease the time between uploading extensions to Mozilla AMO and them becoming available on the site.
Safeguards are in place that prioritize extensions that are uploaded, but the fact remains that extensions are made available on AMO for a period of time before they are checked by a human.
Mozilla has a couple of options to deal with the issue. One that comes to mind is to put all extensions with links on a human checklist, so that these are not automatically added to Mozilla AMO.
This is not the first time that problematic extensions landed on AMO after Mozilla switched to an automatic review process. Earlier this year, extensions landed on AMO that would abuse user hardware to mine for digital currency. Mozilla reacted quickly, but the fact remained that users who downloaded these extensions were affected negatively by them.
Now You: What's your take on the issue?
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Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.