back to article Google clamps down on rogue Chrome plugins and extensions

Google is tightening security on its Chrome web browser by making it harder to install plugins and extensions that could contain malicious code. The web ad-slinger said in a blog post on Tuesday that it has begun strictly enforcing a policy, first announced in November, that Chrome extensions can only be installed from Google' …

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  1. Mark 85 Silver badge

    Is Google following in Apple's footsteps?

    Are they creating their own walled garden? What will be next? Flash? Any from Adobe? Java?

    1. FrankAlphaXII

      Re: Is Google following in Apple's footsteps?

      Where have you been? Google's got a huge walled garden that only the truly foolish think is open. Its easier to work with than Apple's so people don't complain as often or as loudly about it, but it is most certainly there.

      1. Don Jefe

        Re: Is Google following in Apple's footsteps?

        If it helps, Apple has the equivalent of a Victorian 'secret garden' tucked away in the corner of an urban yard, you're under no illusion of where you are or that it's a manufactured environment. Google has a full fledged commercial garden with boundaries so far apart you can't see two sides simultaneously from any location. You get the illusion of endless space but the fact remains you're under just as much restriction as anyone else but you've got no idea where the boundaries are. At least until you run headlong into one. I'm honestly not sure which is worse.

    2. gerdesj Silver badge

      Re: Is Google following in Apple's footsteps?

      "What will be next? Flash?"

      Funnily enough Pepper Flash is actually your best bet in Chrome on Linux, once you've disabled the GPU blacklist thingie to get 3D support.

      The missus would get a bit sarcastic if Farmville2 didn't work fullscreen and quickly on her laptop running Arch. She couldn't give a toss what it runs, provided things work and unfortunately Win8.x didn't cut it when the Nvidia drivers blew up yet again. Bizarrely: mmm nouveau!

      Cheers

      Jon

      PS Any AC twat wanting to have a nerd off about the joys of Win8 is welcome to have a go 8)

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Windows 8 ate my graphics card!

        Yeah, it was all those live tiles that did for it!

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Is Google following in Apple's footsteps?

        "Funnily enough Pepper Flash is actually your best bet in Chrome on Linux"

        Last time I tried out chrome on LInux it required the sandbox manager (or whatever it was called) to run as root. Sorry , no thanks. I am not having ANY user apps running as root on my system under ANY circumstances. Until they fix that Grade A gold plated amateur hour f*ck up I'm sticking with mozilla which can run adobe flash quite nicely and doesn't require root privs.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @Mark 85 - Re: Is Google following in Apple's footsteps?

      Logically, next step will be to kill any form of ad-blocker. It's for your own good, of course!

      1. Psmo

        Re: @Mark 85 - Is Google following in Apple's footsteps?

        Heh, I've been wondering about that. Now how did it go again...

        embrace, extend...

        1. RyokuMas
          Facepalm

          Re: @Mark 85 - Is Google following in Apple's footsteps?

          "embrace, extend..."

          Been saying it for months - Google is the new Microsoft, just with far wider reach...

          And just like Microsoft back in the day, they seem to have more than their fair share of shills

          1. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

            Re: @Mark 85 - Is Google following in Apple's footsteps?

            "embrace, extend..."

            Been saying it for months - Google is the new Microsoft, just with far wider reach...

            You're a bit behind the times then :) To be honest, I was too slow too - I should have spotted this the moment they uttered that don't be evil rubbish. The moment a company feels the need to state it's not evil, you know it's doing something that has worried them about that perception, otherwise they would have just let their actions speak for them.

    4. Daniel B.

      Re: Is Google following in Apple's footsteps?

      Flash, anything from Adobe and Java are all running via browser plugins, so technically this "development" affects all of them. I'm guessing those plugins will require NaCl.

  2. Number6

    Conflict of Interest?

    It will be interesting to see if any of the script and ad-blocking plug-ins make it onto the web store, given that they're effectively clobbering Google's business when installed.

    1. JDX Gold badge

      Re: Conflict of Interest?

      I very much doubt there is any doubt here. They'll be permitted, to do otherwise would massively shoot Google in the foot. Anyone with the tech literacy to install AdBlock also has the nous to switch browser.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Conflict of Interest?

        But if people aren't getting their ads, would Google care if they use their browser or not?

        1. Jordan Davenport

          Re: Conflict of Interest?

          "But if people aren't getting their ads, would Google care if they use their browser or not?"

          Yes, because then Google wouldn't be able to collect as much information as they do, especially if people start using things like NoScript (not for the Average Joe, granted) and Ghostery and rejecting third party cookies.

      2. Tom Chiverton 1

        Re: Conflict of Interest?

        Or turn on developer mode and use an unpacked extension, which bypasses the restriction.

  3. JDX Gold badge

    re:Most use cases that required NPAPI are now supported by JavaScript-based technologies

    No they're not. Certainly lots of plugins could be written in this way, and likely many plugins never needed to be plugins in the first place, but there are very real valid use cases for plugins. However, most of them are not mass-market but niche plugins for a specific application or range of hardware, so Chrome can get away with squashing them.

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: re:Most use cases that required NPAPI are now supported by JavaScript-based technologies

      Funny how out of the six currently whitelisted Netscape plugins, two are Google Earth and Google Talk, which shows you how good Google's amazing new replacement APIs/protocols/languages they're pushing on everybody else this week are.

      Like SPDY which isn't that good after all.

      http://m.theregister.co.uk/2014/05/27/googles_spdy_blamed_for_slowing_http_20_development/

  4. Michael Habel Silver badge

    So does the worlds largest Ad Broker take as dim a view on Ad Block Plus on Chrome, as they do with AdAway on Android? I can only HIGHLY RECOMMEND EVERYONE TO INSTALL THIS! If its not the Nr. One App of all time... Its at least the Second!

    1. Adam Foxton

      The problem with that

      Is you're not then paying for what you're consuming in any way. Many websites- including The Register- rely on this ad revenue to survive.

      By using AdBlock you're depriving them of potential revenue, making their ads worth less to advertisers.

      1. Dave K

        Re: The problem with that

        Understood, but some websites have really been asking for it by relying on ever-more intrusive ads. You've got videos with sound that automatically play, huge overlays covering the entire back of the website, javascript popups which move across the screen and obscure the text until you chase after them to close them, other ads which are flashy to the point of distraction, some rely upon so much Flash and javascript that pages slow to a crawl, etc.

        Hence there's a reason why so many people are driven to utter distraction that they feel the need to install an ad-blocker. From the advertisers point of view, their relentless approach to make their ads more and more intrusive and in-your-face has meant people just switching them off altogether.

        1. Michael Habel Silver badge

          Re: The problem with that

          Understood, but some websites have really been asking for it by relying on ever-more intrusive ads. You've got videos with sound that automatically play, huge overlays covering the entire back of the website, javascript popups which move across the screen and obscure the text until you chase after them to close them, other ads which are flashy to the point of distraction, some rely upon so much Flash and javascript that pages slow to a crawl, etc.

          Hence there's a reason why so many people are driven to utter distraction that they feel the need to install an ad-blocker. From the advertisers point of view, their relentless approach to make their ads more and more intrusive and in-your-face has meant people just switching them off altogether.

          And let us not start on this useless Data (Ads), that get counted against out "Monthly Allowance".

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: The problem with that

          some websites have really been asking for it by relying on ever-more intrusive ads. You've got videos with sound that automatically play

          Actually, I remember this as one of the hacker jokes of the late 90s: set up a website with an auto-play sound file which stated very loudly (to the point of clipping) "THIS USER IS BROWSING P*RN". All it then takes is a few emails into a couple of lower life forms and you can see the hits go up incrementally as they email each other this joke, followed by a sharp drop when the corporate firewall filters get updated to stop this nonsense. Ah, pranks..

      2. Paul Crawford Silver badge

        Re: The problem with that

        AdBlock allows non-intrusive adverts but stops the worst of them, which seems a reasonable deal as those advertisers who play nicely get shown. Also you can white-list sites you like to permit adverts, which is also a fair approach.

      3. The_H

        Re: The problem with that

        That's fine by me.

  5. John Savard

    Walled Garden?

    On Android, you can turn off the setting that restricts a device to only getting applications from the App Store, and you can put in an .apk file directly. Until that changes, Android will not be comparable either to what Google is now doing with Chrome, or with Apple.

    1. RyokuMas
      Pirate

      Re: Walled Garden?

      "...Android will not be comparable either to what Google is now doing with Chrome, or with Apple."

      ... and continue be susceptible to malware attacks via social engineering, and suffer a huge piracy problem.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    One Store

    to bind them

  7. Tufty Squirrel

    So...

    No more youtube video downloaders, which are verboten on google's extension list.

    Potentially no more adblockers, ghostery, etc.

    Your browser is currently a general purpose computing environment. That's about to get restricted.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      You confuse extensions with plugins.

      Of course these things will still exist. Don't be manipulated by the press into thinking otherwise.

  8. pip25
    Thumb Down

    I guess Chrome got popular enough

    Time for Google to start (ab)using its market share. I don't usually have Google-phobia but this move reminds me too much of what Microsoft used to do with IE.

  9. Tony Paulazzo

    Don't Panic!

    Don't Panic! There's still Firefox! Google has so far not put a gun to anybodies head and forced them to use Chrome as their browser. You can even use FF on Android phones and disable Chrome, try doing that with Safari on iPad / iPhone - hint: you can't.

    1. Grease Monkey Silver badge

      Re: Don't Panic!

      Chrome is the dominant browser in the market now, by some distance at that. Depending on exactly who you believe Firefox has less than half Chrome's market share in third place. Do you really think Google are concerned about Firefox? I'm not saying Google are in the right here, I'm saying that this is the harsh reality of the browser market.

      1. Tony Paulazzo

        Re: Don't Panic!

        @ Grease Monkey

        Not sure why you got downvoted, I agree, I still think FF is better - Ghostery, Noscript and Adblock, at least we have the choice - and whilst it did go thru a memory leak / really bloated stage, it's def on the up now (IMHO).

        I mean, I even install Chrome onto many customers PCs because it's nice and friendly and faster than IE and (poor dears), they don't have to remember to update Flash every other day without installing the auto opted in McCaffee AV scanner.

    2. Michael Habel Silver badge

      Re: Don't Panic!

      Don't Panic! There's still Firefox! Google has so far not put a gun to anybodies head and forced them to use Chrome as their browser. You can even use FF on Android phones and disable Chrome, try doing that with Safari on iPad / iPhone - hint: you can't.

      Firefox LOL don't make me laugh... Firefox is virtually dead, now that its little more then a Chrome Clone in Fox Clothing....

    3. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

      Re: Don't Panic!

      Sadly, Firefox is about to be compromised from a different angle. Which reminds me, any statement by Google on this?

  10. Alan Denman

    Best to avoid Chrome really !

    The bigger the corporation the more they want to monopolise you?

    The OS is open so use it to your advantage, not Google's advantage.

    Otherwise they will be a pseudo 100% monopoly of control.

  11. Gerard Krupa

    Just sanctioned malware

    Every complaint I've seen about malicious extensions were all fully sanctioned and available from the Chrome Web Store. Particularly unpalatable are those that are funded by anonymously overlaying every site you visit with ads masquerading as coupons from the insidious Superfish service.

    https://productforums.google.com/forum/#!topic/chrome/mcRFCUAK1hw%5B276-300-false%5D

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: Just sanctioned malware

      Seems like the Chrome Web Store has the same problem as Play, there's no serious vetting.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    they are competition really, and would make their mined data less valuable. So it makes sense. oh well at least only google to worry about protecting ourselves from, right folks?

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