Be careful when you install Microsoft Edge extensions from the Microsoft Store
Browser extensions can extend the functionality of the web browser they are installed in or a site significantly; this is true for all browsers that support extensions, and the new Chromium-based Microsoft Edge is no exception to the rule.
Microsoft operates its own extensions store as part of Microsoft Store, and things seemed to have taken a turn for the better with the switch to the Chromium base earlier this year.
Classic Microsoft Edge suffered from a lack of available extensions, and while Microsoft tried to explain the low number of extensions for the browser, it was clear that the browser could not compete with Google's or Mozilla's extension stores.
The switch to Chromium pushed the number of available extensions for Microsoft Edge and the Store is now hosting thousands of extensions for the browser. Edge users may install Chrome extensions as well next to that.
The increase seems to have brought along with it the issues that the other popular extension stores face from time to time. Microsoft had to remove malicious extensions from its Edge extensions store in May, and it appears that the company had to remove additional extensions this month.
Sites like Techdows published articles on the removal. According to the information, users of Edge opened support requests when they started to notice that searches were redirected when they used the Microsoft Edge browser.
It turned out that rogue extensions were responsible for that. All of these extensions were hosted on the official Microsoft Store; they used names of popular services and programs, e.g. NordVPN, Adguard VPN or The Great Suspender to lure users into installing the extensions.
Microsoft pulled the fake extensions from its web store and users who installed these in Edge will have them disabled on the next start of the browser automatically.
Raymone Hill, maker of the popular content blocker uBlock Origin, discovered another fake extension in the store that was based on an earlier version of uBlock Origin and manipulated website content to inject content on websites the user visited.
The two incidents suggest that users need to be very careful when installing extensions from the Microsoft Edge extensions store as Microsoft's protections are as weak as Google's protections on the Chrome Web Store.
In other words: there is always the chance that an extension is malicious in nature because of an insufficient vetting process. This leads to the following question: what can you do to protect yourself?
One of the best options is to analyze the code of the extension, but that is hardly something that all Edge users can do. Reviews and ratings help only so much, as they can be faked and sometimes, may not be available. You could look for reviews on trusted sites, or make sure that the company that supposedly created the extension has indeed created it by verifying that on the company site.
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