Google cracks down on unofficial Chrome extensions

Google is blocking all Chrome Windows extensions that are not hosted on the Chrome Web Store in an effort to crack down on malware.

From now on, users will only be able to install official add-ons, the company said, adding that existing extensions not currently hosted on the store may also be automatically disabled.

If this is the case, customers will not be able to re-enable or re-install them until they are hosted on the Chrome Web Store, Google said.

The policy is part of a list of features Google has introduce to “keep Chrome users safe as they browse”, Chrome engineering director Erik Kay said in a blog post.

“[We’ve added] built-in features like Safe Browsing, which blocks many types of malicious websites and downloads,” said Kay. “In the case that malicious software has managed to hijack your settings, we’ve added a ‘reset browser settings’ button, so you can get things back to normal.”

Kay described the decision to only allow the installation of extensions from the Chrome Web Store, which was originally announced in November, as an “additional measure” to defend against attackers who “continue to come up with new ways to cause our users headaches”.

Despite the change, the company will continue to support local extension installs for developers, Kay said.

The new policy only applies to those using Chrome in Windows – those running Chrome on other operating systems are unaffected.

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