Google Chrome is getting a big security upgrade to protect you from malicious extensions

Google Chrome on a laptop
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Google is preparing to implement a new change in Chrome that will offer an explanation when one of your browser extensions mysteriously disappears.

If you use the best Google Chrome extensions with the search giant’s browser, then you know just how useful they can be, especially when it comes to adding new features from blocking ads to making your to-do list easier to access. However, sometimes an extension you’ve used for years will magically disappear from your browser without an explanation.

According to a new blog post from the Chrome development team, beginning in Chrome version 117, Google’s browser will point out the fact that one of the extensions they’re using is no longer available in the Chrome Web Store. Just like how malicious apps are removed from the Google Play Store, browser extensions that pose a risk to you and your data are subsequently removed from the Chrome Web Store.

Up until now though, Google didn’t provide any reason as to why one of your extensions may have been removed from Chrome. Once this security upgrade rolls out to your browser, you’ll be able to quickly see if any of the extensions you use have been taken down right from the “Privacy and security section” in Chrome’s settings menu. 

Making Chrome safer

In its announcement, Google explains that Safety Check will alert you about an extension if its developer has taken down, if it was found violating the Chrome Web Store policy or if it has been marked as malware. 

Clicking “Review” in Chrome’s Privacy and security menu will then provide you with the option to remove the extension from your browser. However, you can also choose to hide the warning if you wish to keep a particular extension installed. Just like in previous versions of Chrome though, Google will automatically disable them if they've been marked as malware.

As Chrome Unboxed points out, Google has been working hard to make Chrome safer and last year, the company added a ‘Seal of approval’ to extensions on the Chrome Web Store. Likewise, a Featured badge was also added to some extensions to make it easier to find the ones worth installing.

How to stay safe from malicious extensions

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Bringing Safety Check to Chrome’s extensions page will make it more difficult for malicious extensions to wreak havoc in your browser but there are still some steps you can take to stay safe from dangerous browser extensions.

For starters, you only want to download new browser extensions from the Chrome Web Store for Google Chrome or from the Microsoft Edge Add-ons store for Microsoft Edge. Just like with apps on your smartphone, it’s also worth limiting the number of extensions you have installed in your browser as it can be difficult to keep track of them all if you have too many.

At the same time, Google recommends keeping your browser up to date and running the latest version of Chrome as this will ensure you have the most up-to-date security protections. For additional protection though, you should have one of the best antivirus software solutions installed on your PC or the best Mac antivirus software installed on your Mac. You can also turn on Google’s Enhanced Protection feature in Chrome’s privacy and security settings.

Chrome 117 is expected to arrive on September 12 and once it does, you should go to the Privacy and security section to make sure that none of your browser extensions have gone rogue.

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Anthony Spadafora
Senior Editor Security and Networking

Anthony Spadafora is the security and networking editor at Tom’s Guide where he covers everything from data breaches and ransomware gangs to password managers and the best way to cover your whole home or business with Wi-Fi. Before joining the team, he wrote for ITProPortal while living in Korea and later for TechRadar Pro after moving back to the US. Based in Houston, Texas, when he’s not writing Anthony can be found tinkering with PCs and game consoles, managing cables and upgrading his smart home.