Bogus 'Adblock Plus' Opens More Ads

John Lister's picture

Users of a popular ad-blocking tool have been warned to watch out for a bogus version of the tool. One copy of the fake Adblock Plus was downloaded 37,000 times before being removed from the Google Chrome store.

The legitimate version of Adblock Plus is one of the most popular tools available as a Chrome extension: a third-party tool that can be added directly to the browser itself. The makers claim that more than a hundred million devices are actively using the tool.

The bogus version is particularly ironic, though not in a way that victims would appreciate: rather than block ads, it actually displays additional ads and even opens some of them in new tabs. As well as being annoying, that can quickly eat up memory and make a computer run more slowly. It's not yet known if the extension did anything else to computers. (Source:

Google Had 'Verified' Extension

It's surprising the bogus version became available, as Google verifies Chrome extensions before making them available through its store. That's an important procedure given the security implications of a rogue extension being able to access or even control a user's web browsing activity. Google has yet to comment on this specific incident. (Source:

The bogus version not only shared the same name (albeit written 'AdBlock Plus' rather than 'Adblock Plus'), but even listed Adblock Plus as the developer. The only obvious signs it was not the real thing were the relatively low number of downloads and the fact that the description was simply a long list of search terms relating to online software tools.

Some people have suggested one way Google could combat attempts to mislead users is to automatically block any extensions put forward for the Chrome store if they have a name similar to any of the most popular existing extensions.

Attention Readers: A Note On Ad blocking

As always when we mention ad-blocking tools, we should point out that ad revenue is absolutely vital to covering the staff and running costs that let us bring Infopackets to our audience. Most ad-blocking tools allow users to manually add a site to a white list that means ads are still displayed on that site. We would be extremely grateful if any readers who use ad-blocking tools added Infopackets to their white list. Much thanks!

What's Your Opinion?

Do you use Chrome extensions? If so, do you trust Google to properly vet them for security and to catch fake tools? Should Google automatically block new extensions that use the same name as a very popular existing extension?

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