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Google brings new privacy policy for its web store

4 min read
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Developers use a variety of the way to breed extensions sort of a bunch of spam bunnies in Google’s Chrome Web Store, which is that the biggest extension catalog online.

For example, sometimes they stuff the shop with multiple extensions that do an equivalent thing. Like, say, wallpaper extensions that have different metadata but provide the precise same wallpaper when installed.

Well, those developers can say goodbye thereto and a slew of other run-around: on Wednesday, Google banned them during a set of latest rules for the Chrome Web Store, which is published as a replacement Chrome Web Store spam policy within its Developer Program Policies.


Here’s an FAQ about the new policy, and here’s the complete list of what’s now verboten:

Repetitive Content: No more copypasta! No more submitting multiple extensions that provide duplicate experiences or function. Besides the wallpaper example is data or format converters listed as multiple extensions – for instance, Fahrenheit to Celsius, Celsius to Fahrenheit – that each one directs the user to an equivalent multi-format converter website.
Keyword Spam: Google’s not getting to put up with blabby, redundant extensions: specifically, those with “misleading, improperly formatted, non-descriptive, irrelevant, excessive, or inappropriate metadata, including but not limited to the extension’s description, developer name, title, icon, screenshots, and promotional images.”In other words, don’t stuff the outline filled with keywords, including brand names. the utmost number you’ll repeat a keyword is now five. to supply an extended list of brands or websites, developers can provide a link for users or embed the list in one among the extension’s promotional screenshots. No irrelevant information, either: for instance, a sports team wallpaper shouldn’t include team stats and history within the extension’s description. Make it clear and well-written, Google said, and skip unattributed or anonymous user testimonials: they’re not allowed in extension descriptions.

  • User Ratings, Reviews, and Installs: Developers are forbidden from manipulating their extensions’ placement within the Chrome Web Store by doing things like cooking up bogus downloads, reviews, or ratings. meaning you can’t review your own baby, and you can’t get reviews from other developers or people affiliated with the publisher.
  • Functionality: Extensions now need to have some purpose besides installing or launching another app, theme, webpage, or extension.
  • Notification Abuse: Google disallows extensions that bleat out spam, ads, promotions, phishing attempts or other sorts of unwanted messages.
  • Message Spam: The new policy prohibits extensions that send messages on a user’s behalf without the user confirming the content or the recipients.

Beyond annoying, they will be dangerous

This is just the newest plan to mop up the sprawling Chrome Web Store and therefore the many ratty extensions that lurk in its aisles, a number of which aren’t just spammy – they will even be malicious. for instance, a couple of weeks ago, Google found itself sweeping out a set of 49 malicious Chrome extensions that MyCrypto researchers had caught pickpocketing crypto wallets.

You can see where those nasty extensions could have inspired Google’s new extension spam policies: for one, some were rated up by a network of bogus reviewers dispensing fake 5-star reviews. The reviews were cursory and low-quality, like “good,” “helpful app,” or “legit extension.”

As well, one among the extensions – MyEtherWallet – had the type of repetitive language that Google’s now outlawed. Harry Denley, MyCrypto Director of Security, calls it “copypasta”, with an equivalent review posted about 8 times and purportedly authored by different users. All of the reviews shared an equivalent introduction into what Bitcoin is and evidence of why the (malicious) MyEtherWallet was their preferred browser extension.

Before that, in February, Google abruptly yanked 500 Chrome extensions off its Web Store after researchers discovered they were stealing browsing data, pulling off click fraud, and serving up malvertising. The extensions had installed themselves on many users’ computers.

At the time, our advice was to not assume that, simply because an extension is hosted from a politician web store, it’s safe to use.

Our advice:

  • Try to install fewer extensions as possible and, download, only from official web stores.
  • Check the reviews and feedback from others who’ve installed the extension.
  • concentrate on the developer’s reputation, how responsive they’re to questions and the way frequently they post version updates.
  • Study the permissions they invite (in Chrome, Settings > Extensions > Details) and confirm they’re in line with the extension’s features. Be suspicious if the permissions change.

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