We no longer recommend the Chrome extension The Great Suspender. Here is why!
The Great Suspender is a popular Chrome extension with more than 2 million users on Google's platform alone. The extension is designed to improve the RAM use of the Chrome browser by suspending tabs manually or automatically.
I reviewed The Great Suspender back in 2013 for the first time and found it to be an excellent extension for taming Chrome's RAM hunger. The extension was mentioned in several articles on this site as a recommendation, e.g. in how to handle lots of browser tabsÂ and in how to tame Google Chrome's memory use.
Update: Google removed the extension from the Chrome Web Store.
Why we are no longer recommending The Great Suspender
The original developer of the open source extension sold the extension to an unknown entity in June 2020. It is not uncommon for extensions to get sold, and companies contact the creators of popular extensions all the time to find out if the creators are interesting in selling their extensions.
Some exploit the userbases of bought extensions through various means, e.g. by adding or increasing tracking or displaying advertisement, or through semi-legal or malicious means such as injecting ads on visited pages or selling user data to other companies.
The Register reports that the new owner of the extension submitted a new version of the extension to the Chrome Web Store but did not upload it to the GitHub project site.
Version 7.1.8, submitted initially to the Chrome Web Store, included calls to remote scripts and used remote tracking analytics. The update did request additional permissions, including the permission to manipulate all web requests.
The new owner uploaded a new version of the extension after it got suspended by Microsoft from the company's web store. The new version removed the script but it kept the extra permissions that it requested when the previous version was released.
Developers analyzed the code of the extension versions and discovered additional bits of code that added more weight to the "there is something fishy going on" camp. Thibauld Colas published his analysis on GitHub, noting that the Open Web Analytics script that the extension was using, was "another application trying to pass for it".
To sum it up:
- The Great Suspender was sold to an unknown entity in mid-2020.
- The new owner uploaded a new version of the extension that requested more permissions, made remote calls and used a remote analytics script.
- The analytics script in question raised several red flags, one developer citing that it was made to look like an analytics script only.
- The new owner uploaded a new version to the Chrome Web Store, removing objectionable content but keeping the new permission requests.
We recommend that you uninstall the extension from your web browsers or switch back to using version 7.1.6 of The Great Suspender; the last version published by the original developer.
Now You: what is your take on this? Have another alternative that you recommend?Advertisement