Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Mobile Security //

Apps

1/17/2018
09:05 AM
Larry Loeb
Larry Loeb
Larry Loeb
50%
50%

Google Chrome Extensions Hide Malice

Researchers from ICEBEG found malicious code hiding in four popular Google Chrome extensions. The search giant is working to fix the problem.

Google Chrome is the most popular web browser, and four extensions that can inject malicious code into it have been found hiding in plain sight on the Chrome Web Store.

ICEBRG, a US-based security firm, first noticed a problem that included an unusual amount of traffic emulating from a workstation to a European virtual private server (VPS) provider. This caused researchers to dig further, and issue a report on the situation.

What researchers found was a Chrome extension named "Change HTTP Request Header," which could download obfuscated JSON files from the "change-request[.]info" website -- IP address of 109.206.161[.]14 -- via an "update_presets()" function.

The malicious extension at work\r\n(Source: ICEBERG)\r\n
The malicious extension at work
\r\n(Source: ICEBERG)\r\n

Now, Chrome can execute JavaScript code contained within JSON but it's not supposed to be able to do so without explicit permission. The extension snuck in a change in permissions to the browser before the JSON was downloaded and then executed.

The downloaded code was observed by ICEBRG to check for Chrome debugging tools and then halting the execution of the infected segment if those tools were found.

When active, the extension would create a WebSocket tunnel to the command and control server and establish proxy browsing traffic via the victim's browser. It then causes the affected systems to land on advertising sites to which referring sites are paid a "pay per click" bounty. The technique used to make this happen could be used for other malicious actions, however. Browsing the internal network of a victim and bypassing perimeter controls would be one situation that could be easily constructed by use of the same method.

Other Chrome extensions were found to use these same techniques. Specifically, Nyoogle-Custom Logo for Google, Lite Bookmarks and Stickies -- Chrome's Post-it Notes. All of these extensions had a reach of about 500,000 users.

Even though three out of the four extensions had been removed from the Chrome Web Store -- Nyoogle still remains -- they may remain active for unaware users in their browsers.

ICEBRG researchers note that they have notified the relevant parties to "coordinate responses," including the National Cyber Security Centre of The Netherlands (NCSC-NL), the United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT) and the Google Safe Browsing Operations team.

Google seems to be trying to increase extension security on Chrome by limiting code injection of any kind but that may not be practical for all types of software functions.

Google itself will have to come up with a better control mechanism than it currently shows now in order to be a truly enterprise-class browser that cannot be easily fooled.

Related posts:

— Larry Loeb has written for many of the last century's major "dead tree" computer magazines, having been, among other things, a consulting editor for BYTE magazine and senior editor for the launch of WebWeek.

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Edge-DRsplash-10-edge-articles
I Smell a RAT! New Cybersecurity Threats for the Crypto Industry
David Trepp, Partner, IT Assurance with accounting and advisory firm BPM LLP,  7/9/2021
News
Attacks on Kaseya Servers Led to Ransomware in Less Than 2 Hours
Robert Lemos, Contributing Writer,  7/7/2021
Commentary
It's in the Game (but It Shouldn't Be)
Tal Memran, Cybersecurity Expert, CYE,  7/9/2021
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon
Current Issue
Enterprise Cybersecurity Plans in a Post-Pandemic World
Download the Enterprise Cybersecurity Plans in a Post-Pandemic World report to understand how security leaders are maintaining pace with pandemic-related challenges, and where there is room for improvement.
Flash Poll
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2021-31819
PUBLISHED: 2021-09-22
In Halibut versions prior to 4.4.7 there is a deserialisation vulnerability that could allow remote code execution on systems that already trust each other based on certificate verification.
CVE-2021-38112
PUBLISHED: 2021-09-22
In the Amazon AWS WorkSpaces client before 3.1.9 on Windows, argument injection in the workspaces:// URI handler can lead to remote code execution because of the Chromium Embedded Framework (CEF) --gpu-launcher argument.
CVE-2021-41382
PUBLISHED: 2021-09-22
Plastic SCM before 10.0.16.5622 mishandles the WebAdmin server management interface.
CVE-2020-23266
PUBLISHED: 2021-09-22
An issue was discovered in gpac 0.8.0. The OD_ReadUTF8String function in odf_code.c has a heap-based buffer overflow which can lead to a denial of service (DOS) via a crafted media file.
CVE-2020-23267
PUBLISHED: 2021-09-22
An issue was discovered in gpac 0.8.0. The gf_hinter_track_process function in isom_hinter_track_process.c has a heap-based buffer overflow which can lead to a denial of service (DOS) via a crafted media file