Attacks/Breaches
8/30/2013
10:36 AM
50%
50%

Malicious Chrome Extension Poses As Facebook Video

As malware attacks targeting browser extensions become more common, security researchers advise users to be more careful about installing extensions and to regularly review permissions.

Beware an attack campaign that pretends to offer a Facebook video but instead installs a malicious extension in Chrome Web browsers.

That warning was sounded this week by Kaspersky Lab, which said that it had spotted variations of that attack being hosted on the official Google Chrome Web store. Some versions of the attack, which originated in Turkey, are customized to target Italian users of Facebook, while other variations target Latin Americans.

"Attacks such as these ones are getting very common," Fabio Assolini, senior security researcher at Kaspersky Lab, said via email. He blamed users for too often not exercising good sense when it comes to adding extensions to their browser. "They need to know that an extension can access everything you do in the browser, all the data, passwords and the websites visited, so it's very important to not install unknown extensions," he said. "The situation gets worse when the malicious extension is hosted in the official Chrome Web store, as we noticed in some attacks."

[ Are Gmail users entirely too trusting? Read Gmail Is Not A Privacy Problem. ]

As with the Android security model, the Chrome browser lists which permissions any Chrome extension will be granted should a user allow it to be installed. Assolini recommended that all Chrome users regularly review the extensions they have installed, as well as the permissions they'd been granted. "Avoid installing those asking [for too many] permissions to access personal data," he advised.

The fake Facebook video attack campaign isn't the first time users have been targeted by malicious Chrome extensions. A particularly large campaign was spotted last year that targeted people in Brazil -- where Chrome's installation base is now 65%, according to StatCounter -- via malicious extensions distributed by the Chrome Web store.

Assolini said there's a constant "cat and mouse game" between cybercriminals, who upload malicious extensions to the Chrome Web store and attempt to trick people into installing them, and Google, which removes the extensions whenever it learns they're there.

The Chrome extension security situation improved after June 2012, however, when Google updated Chrome to prevent it from running any extension that wasn't procured from the Chrome Web store, and required users to navigate to their browser's "extensions" page to add any extension. Google explained that it made the change because it doesn't have the ability to take down malicious items promoted on other websites, meaning hackers could have launched attacks that silently installed extensions that would then monitor all Web traffic and information flowing to or from a browser.

At the same time it announced that change, Google also revealed that it had begun scanning extensions for signs of maliciousness. "To help keep you safe on the Web, we have started analyzing every extension that is uploaded to the Web Store and take down those we recognize to be malicious," the company said.

Still, some information security experts see a lingering Chrome extension security risk, since they're set to automatically update. For example, if an attacker was able to compromise an updated extension prior to its distribution, they'd have a prebuilt mechanism for injecting malicious JavaScript into the browser of any user that had installed the extension. In corporate environments, it's unlikely that antivirus tools would spot any such malicious activity since malicious extensions would be handling only HTTP requests and JavaScript code and would thus appear normal.

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Cartoon
Current Issue
Dark Reading December Tech Digest
Experts weigh in on the pros and cons of end-user security training.
Flash Poll
Video
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2014-5395
Published: 2014-11-21
Multiple cross-site request forgery (CSRF) vulnerabilities in Huawei HiLink E3276 and E3236 TCPU before V200R002B470D13SP00C00 and WebUI before V100R007B100D03SP01C03, E5180s-22 before 21.270.21.00.00, and E586Bs-2 before 21.322.10.00.889 allow remote attackers to hijack the authentication of users ...

CVE-2014-7137
Published: 2014-11-21
Multiple SQL injection vulnerabilities in Dolibarr ERP/CRM before 3.6.1 allow remote authenticated users to execute arbitrary SQL commands via the (1) contactid parameter in an addcontact action, (2) ligne parameter in a swapstatut action, or (3) project_ref parameter to projet/tasks/contact.php; (4...

CVE-2014-7871
Published: 2014-11-21
SQL injection vulnerability in Open-Xchange (OX) AppSuite before 7.4.2-rev36 and 7.6.x before 7.6.0-rev23 allows remote authenticated users to execute arbitrary SQL commands via a crafted jslob API call.

CVE-2014-8090
Published: 2014-11-21
The REXML parser in Ruby 1.9.x before 1.9.3 patchlevel 551, 2.0.x before 2.0.0 patchlevel 598, and 2.1.x before 2.1.5 allows remote attackers to cause a denial of service (CPU and memory consumption) a crafted XML document containing an empty string in an entity that is used in a large number of nes...

CVE-2014-8469
Published: 2014-11-21
Cross-site scripting (XSS) vulnerability in Guests/Boots in AdminCP in Moxi9 PHPFox before 4 Beta allows remote attackers to inject arbitrary web script or HTML via the User-Agent header.

Best of the Web
Dark Reading Radio
Archived Dark Reading Radio
Now that the holiday season is about to begin both online and in stores, will this be yet another season of nonstop gifting to cybercriminals?