If your search results have seemed off, or you’ve noticed an uptick in unwanted ads, you might have accidentally installed one of the 32 malicious Chrome extensions recently struck from the Chrome Web Store. Ranging from an automatic ad-skipper for YouTube videos to a clipboard manager to a VPN, these extensions provided the advertised functionality while also containing hidden, problematic code.
In late May, Palant found and reported an additional 18 extensions with similar malicious code to Google, with the top downloads including Autoskip for YouTube, Soundboost, Crystal ad blocker, Brisk VPN, Clipboard Helper, and Maxi Refresher. The total increased to 34 by early June. You can see the full detailed list and read about the technical particulars in Palant’s write-up. In total, the extensions have a combined 75 million downloads (though Palant believes those numbers might be inflated).
Cybersecurity company Avast confirmed Palant’s findings, calling the extensions “adware”—which matches the reports of unwanted redirections and search result hijacking in user reviews. It also reported the extensions to Google, which has since taken action and has removed the extensions from the Chrome Web Store.
If you downloaded one of the malicious add-ons, you must remove it from your browser yourself. Their removal from the Chrome Web Store doesn’t automatically delete them. To do so, click the puzzle-piece icon in the upper-right corner of Chrome, choose Manage Extensions, and use the Remove button to rid your browser of the offending add-on.
Alaina Yee is PCWorld’s resident bargain hunter—when she’s not covering PC building, computer components, mini-PCs, and more, she’s scouring for the best tech deals. Previously her work has appeared in PC Gamer, IGN, Maximum PC, and Official Xbox Magazine. You can find her on Twitter at @morphingball.