Google takes even more action against deceptive Chrome extension installations - gHacks Tech News

Google takes even more action against deceptive Chrome extension installations

Google wants to do more against deceptive Chrome extension installations; the company announced a number of changes that it hopes will reduce the number of deceptive installations starting July 1, 2019.

Google announced a first wave of changes to combat deceptive extension installations in 2018 when it announced the retirement of inline installations. Inline installations of extensions kept the entire extension installation process on third-party sites. The change enforced the installation through the official Chrome Web Store instead and the reasoning behind that was that users would have access to information that the inline installation dialog would not provide.

chrome inline installation dialog

It did not take long before shady extension developers found a way around the new limitation. One method used would simply change the size of the Chrome Web Store window so that limited information and the "add to Chrome" button was visible to the user.

The changes announced today address the described issue and other methods used by shady extension developers to get their extensions installed on user devices.

Google mentions the following "deceptive installation tactics" specifically:

  • Misleading interactive elements, e.g. call to action buttons or forms that "imply an outcome other than the installation of an extension".
  • Modifying the site of the Chrome Web Store item listing window to withhold or hide information".
  • Unclear or inconspicuous disclosures, e.g. not revealing to the user that an extension will be downloaded or installed or explaining what the extension does clearly.

Google notes that the previous changes dropped complaints about unwanted extension installations by 18%. The company hopes that the newly announced changes will reduce the number of users affected by deceptive installations further.

The changes will go live on July 1st, 2019. Google plans to remove extensions from the Chrome Web Store if they violate these new policies. The action that Google will take may differ depending on the "egregiousness of the deceptive behavior". It may include immediate removal from the Chrome Web Store and disabling on user systems or a warning email instead.

A developer FAQ has been published that provides further information for extension developers.

Closing Words

Google's previous actions against deceptive extension installations dropped user complaints but they did not eliminate the issue entirely. The new methods will surely improve the situation further but it seems unlikely that they will eliminate the issue entirely.

Now You: How do you install extensions in your browser of choice? Do you read user reviews or web reviews?

Summary
Google takes even more action against deceptive Chrome extension installations
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Google takes even more action against deceptive Chrome extension installations
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Google wants to do more against deceptive Chrome extension installations; the company announced a number of changes that it hopes will reduce the number of deceptive installations starting July 1, 2019.
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Ghacks Technology News
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Comments

  1. Jozsef said on May 31, 2019 at 9:35 am
    Reply

    Words like reduce and hope are all nice but unless they do proper manual reviewing, I won’t install anything without a trusted third party’s recommendation.

    Google is for those who like to gamble and that’s not everyone.

  2. tbf said on May 31, 2019 at 10:49 am
    Reply

    kinda curious why there’s a pic of eff privacy badger when talking about shady dev

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on May 31, 2019 at 11:12 am
      Reply

      It is just to depict the old in-line installation process.

  3. TelV said on May 31, 2019 at 2:50 pm
    Reply

    I always read both user and web reviews before making a decision to install an add-on. One bad review may not necessarily dissuade me, but will make me scrutinize both the reviewer and the add-on a little more closely before making a firm decision.

  4. 99 said on May 31, 2019 at 5:58 pm
    Reply

    >>> “Do you read user reviews or web reviews?”

    I can assure you, I never follow dubious recommendations on ghacks.net!

    Does anyone still remember the FireFox & Chrome extension Bootstaler and UnLazy?

    To promote them on ghacks.net wasn’t, what one could call a Highlight of “Technology News”. Guess why they all of these ‘eladkarako’ extensions disappeared vom AMO, Chrome Web Store and GitHub?

    Let us not speak of the days of dancing hamster backgrounds now, but I really do not understand, why ‘ghacks.net’ still offers a download link from their download server.

  5. John Fenderson said on May 31, 2019 at 10:35 pm
    Reply

    “How do you install extensions in your browser of choice? Do you read user reviews or web reviews?”

    I very rarely install new extensions, but generally when I do, I do so because they were recommended by someone that I trust about such things. I generally pay no attention at all to user or web reviews, or extensions that are advocated for in comment sections (unless the commenter is someone I recognize and trust the judgement of).

    Certain sources are an exception. For instance, if GHacks positively mentions an extension that looks as if it may solve a problem I’m having, I would take a closer look at it.

    But, my default stance is that I will not install new extensions just because they sound interesting. An extension has to address a real pain point I’m actively having to be considered.

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