Author Topic: Chrome will cripple ad blockers  (Read 457 times)

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Offline Maik

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Chrome will cripple ad blockers
« on: Sunday, 11 February, 2024 @ 01:12:52 »
Ad blockers are very popular and probably most people have one added to their web browser, be it Google Chrome, MS Edge or Firefox. Of course, browser add-ons can be very useful and some people have a number of extensions. This can actually make your PC less secure and compromise your privacy. The more extensions you have the more unique your internet 'fingerprint' is. Additionally, even the genuine extensions have the ability to access and read your files. Then there are the rogue extensions designed to look useful while stealing your data.

Chrome extensions: they see everything

Your handy adblocker, price tracker, or spell checker extension might be significantly risking your online safety. Oren Koren, Co-Founder of the cybersecurity firm Veriti, advised me to delete all Chrome extensions, and he’s not the only one. Four more cybersecurity researchers have similar opinions.

Extensions possess more powers than many regular apps on your devices. This means that files on a computer might not be safe from the spying eye.

Basically, your adblocker can inspect all content you send over the web, collect FTP passwords, get a complete list of the files, and track the downloads.

Developers may have only benign intentions. However, their extensions can be hacked, just like any application. For example, a prevalent application, CCleaner, once suffered an attack and left its users vulnerable. Vulnerabilities may also be discovered in developers' software frameworks, i.e., Electron or others.

Many extensions are created with malicious intent already. The most dangerous are sideloaded extensions.

And thousands of rogue browser extensions lurk in official extension stores, which lures users into a fall sense of security, assuming that all of these available extensions have been carefully vetted and deemed safe, Patrick Harr, CEO of the cybersecurity company SlashNext, warns.

Here's the typical permissions for a Firefox extension:

As it says, you can Learn more. As you can see, there's a lot of information an extension can see, so this might be a useful read: Tips for assessing the safety of an extension.

In June 2024 Google will significantly limit access by extensions via Manifest v3 (Mv3). This may seem a positive move but ad blockers, tracker blockers and other privacy tools will be crippled. One of those most affected is uBlock Origin as it blocks more crap than just ads.

According to the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), an international non-profit digital rights group based in San Francisco, Chrome Users Beware: Manifest V3 is Deceitful and Threatening. They aren't alone in that view (see link).

Google is the world's largest advertising company. It makes its money by collecting users' data and selling it to advertisers. Google trackers are installed on 75% of the world's top 1,000,000 websites. Ad blockers obviously impact on their ability to attract advertisers and charge them what Google want to charge. (Facebook trackers are installed on 25% of the top 1,000,000 websites).

Mv3 won't only affect Chrome, it will also apply to other Chromium based browsers, such as MS Edge, but more people use Chrome than all the other browsers put together.

If you trust Google you'll find the new, Mv3 versions of uBlock Origin and Adblock Plus available in the Chrome Web Store. Many users may even find the Mv3 versions require less rocket science to use, a trade off for being less effective.

If adverts and increased surveillance by Google are a concern there's some good news: both Mv3 and pre-Mv3 versions of uBlock Origin, Adblock Plus, etc, will work in Firefox.
« Last Edit: Sunday, 11 February, 2024 @ 03:46:04 by Maik »