A fake Adblock Plus extension has infected about 37,000 Google Chrome users
In a most unfortunate twist, tens of thousands of users who were only looking for a way to block ads may have instead opened the door to an ad invasion.
The users thought they were downloading the popular Adblock Plus extension for Google Chrome. Used by millions of people worldwide, Adblock Plus is extremely effective at blocking space-consuming banner ads, annoying pop-up windows and surprise input prompts. This clone of the well-known extension did anything but block ads, however. In fact, it may have infected users with adware that creates a barrage of loud and obnoxious tabs and pop-ups. Talk about irony.
You can't really fault the unsuspecting users, though. The false ad blocker was listed on the Google Chrome Web Store under the same name as the real Adblock Plus, with the only visible—but not necessarily noticeable—difference an uppercase instead of lowercase "B." The impostor even claimed to share the same developer; again, with a slight difference in name. It also featured a bunch of reviews that showered praise on the fraudulent piece of software. Anyone not already familiar with the real Adblock Plus could have easily fallen for it—and many did.
Google has finally acted, removing the wannabe ad blocker from its store. For many Chrome users, however, removal does not go far enough; they ask that Google look into its apparently lax verification process so that potentially dangerous extensions do not find their way into the Chrome Web Store in the future. It's a reasonable request—nobody wants to be hit with a sudden explosion of NSFW sights and sounds while trying to use their laptop at work or in school.
After all, who's going to believe the old "my laptop must have gotten a virus somehow" defense, right?