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A Security Briefing on Chrome Extensions

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A Security Briefing on Chrome Extensions

As of July 2020, Google Chrome had a 69% market share globally. This makes any security issues associated with Google Chrome a very big deal. Today we’d like to talk about Chrome’s many extensions and the permissions they receive, usually with minimal awareness from the user.

What do these permissions mean, and how can you adjust them to your comfort level?

DISCLAIMER: This process will involve changing a few of your computer settings, so run these changes past your IT provider before you make them.

What Permissions Have Been Granted?

Like any application, a browser extension needs some data to function properly. Extensions operating within the browser are going to request your browsing data. Our concern is that some extensions ask for a lot more data than their tasks actually need.

A recent analysis showed that a third of all extensions make excessive permission requests.

Here are a few steps to help you evaluate your access permissions.

Step 1: Check Permissions as They Stand

To see which of your currently installed extensions have been given excessive permissions, enter chrome: extensions into your browser’s address bar. On the extension list, click Details, and pull up Site access.

The access levels describe the level of permissions granted to the extension include:

  • On click – The extension can access and alter data in your active tab only when you click on the extension’s shortcut.
  • On specific sites – Only certain websites allow the extension to access and alter what is presented in the browser.
  • On all sites – There are no restrictions on an extension, allowing it to access and alter data at any time.

Any one of these site access levels may be appropriate to the particular extension, and some may not even need access. The level of permission is your decision.

Step 2: Adjusting Permissions

If you find that an extension has been granted far greater permissions than it needs, you can usually adjust the settings by selecting the appropriate level under Site access. Follow the principle of least privilege; always minimize access as much as possible. If a non-essential extension asks for too much, consider deleting it.

Step 3: Stay On Top of Your Permissions

Once you’ve gone through your current extensions, be alert whenever installing a new one. When the extension prompts you with a dialog box asking for permissions, don’t just click through. Review the access and decide whether to look for an alternative. The more permissions granted, the worse it is for you if there is a security breach.

Quikteks is here to help you to be proactive in small business IT management. Have questions about IT maintenance and management services? Give us a call at (973) 882-4644.

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